Police Not Doing Their Job, Blame the Property Owner
I know this is a Rhode Island focused blog and sometimes we touch on national issues that affect Rhode Island. This story is neither, but it is an example of the level of lunacy that our federal government and law enforcement has gone to.
Today’s Providence Journal contains a story1 about a motel in Tewksbury, MA that is being seized by the federal government because of an alleged prevalence of drug dealing at the motel.
In its petition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston describes eight drug arrests made at the motel between 2001 and 2008
“Police records show there has been a long history of criminal activity at that location,” said Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, whose office brought the forfeiture complaint in federal court on behalf of the Department of Justice.
So wait a minute. The Justice Department is going to seize an entire motel business from someone who
In Caswell’s case, the government is not claiming that Caswell committed any crimes, but says the motel should be shut down because of the drug-dealing that goes on among its guests.
The police there make one arrest a year and now the US Justice department wants to seize the property? There’s got to be more to this story.
If the government wins, under a provision of the law known as “equitable sharing,” the Tewksbury police department could collect up to 80 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the motel. That would amount to more than $1 million, if the motel sells for the most recent town assessment of just over $1.5 million.
So why this guy and not one of the other thousands of motels around the country where this kind of activity takes place?
the Motel Caswell was seen as an easier candidate for forfeiture because it is not part of a large chain. It’s also family-owned and mortgage-free
Maybe this is one of those situations where the owner is turning a blind eye to the activity in order to rent out his rooms. Maybe?
He keeps a “do not rent” list at the front desk to notify his clerks of guests he has had problems with in the past. But he says he has no way of predicting what other guests will cause trouble.
Hmm, ok, well then it would seem he’s trying to keep the “bad people” out, but maybe he’s not willing to work with the police on deterring the crimes.
Caswell said he has tried repeatedly to get information from police about drug activity, but they always tell him they can’t talk about investigations.
So here we have a private businessman with a six-decade family business that seems to be trying to keep the undesirables away and the Justice Department sees a gold mine and payday.
One of the parts that I don’t understand is why is this happening when it seems that it is the city’s police department who isn’t doing their job. It seems the hotel owner is doing all he legally can to cut down on the illegal activity. Usually in places where there is a heavy police presence, the drug dealers go elsewhere. If this is a place where drugs are frequently peddled, then the peddlers must not feel very threatened by the police.
Another part is how can you just seize a $1.5 million property due to one arrest a year. Here in Rhode Island, our own state legislature has had what, about four arrests in the last year? So what’s next, does the Justice Department come in and seize our State House?
1 You can actually find the AP article in the online Boston Herald or in the Providence Journal’s e-Edition. I really have no idea what the Journal is thinking with this whole online mess. In their radio commercials, they talk about how they have to report the news before bloggers can comment on it. Yeah, sometimes that’s true but when we do comment on it, it sure would be nice to be able to give you a direct attribution and link back. But I can’t. Because the story isn’t on your web site and your e-edition is unlinkable!