Landlord Steps Up—Works with MPD to Shut Down Another Drug House

  • Landlord Steps Up—Works with MPD to Shut Down Another Drug House

    Landlord Steps Up—Works with MPD to Shut Down Another Drug House

    Police Chief Maury Richards announced that successful resolution, with full cooperation of the landlord, of another case under Martinsburg’s innovative “Drug House Ordinance.” Yesterday, Richards and Assistant City Prosecutor Nicola Smith appeared in front of Municipal Court Judge Dale Buck regarding the Order of Abatement that shut down illegal drug activity in two apartments at the Franklin Manor apartment complex at 700 W. Burke Street.  Mr. Steven Nehrt, Regional Manager of Humphrey Management, was present to report on the progress that has been made to fully resolve the problem.

    The case started as part of an on-going investigation by the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force into illegal drug-distribution and selling in the area.  Task Force members executed a federal search warrant on November 13, 2018 at Franklin Manor Apartments 45 and 46, recovering 28 grams of heroin and 57 grams of cocaine.  Levar Crawford, 41, the target of the warrant, was placed in custody.  Crawford was already on probation from a June, 2018 conviction for Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine.  His probation has been revoked.

    After the successful drug enforcement action, Chief Richards obtained the Order of Abatement to address the illegal drug activity documented at the rental property.  Two tenants, Samantha Adams and Regina Crawford were found to be in violation of the terms of their leases and evicted by Franklin Manor management.  Both apartments are now vacant and management is in the process of thoroughly screening the backgrounds of prospective tenants in strict accordance with HUD guidelines.

    The MPD Chief expressed his appreciation to the property manager for his on-going cooperation.  “As soon as I notified Steve Nehrt about the federal search warrant, he was on top of the problem.  Steve acted immediately to quickly remove the problem tenants and assess any other potential issues.  As a result, there have been zero calls for police service to this location since November 13th,” Richards stated.  At Wednesday’s court hearing, Mr. Nehrt also notified the Chief that he is in the process of hiring a new on-site property manager for the 48-unit complex who will be working closely with the police to proactively identify and address any future issues.  “We want responsible landlords on our team,” Richards said.  “Steve Nehrt has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs, crime, and disorder at Franklin Manor.  We’ve established a good working relationship and look forward to cooperating even more closely in the future,” he added.

    Deputy Chief George Swartwood stated that, “This is an example of exactly the type of partnership we need in Martinsburg between property owners, MPD, and the community.  We’re continuing to improve the quality of life throughout Martinsburg, one block at a time.”

    As part of the Martinsburg Police Department’s community-policing strategy, the Drug House Ordinance is a powerful drug-fighting tool.  Since its adoption in April, 2016, MPD has utilized the ordinance to shut down 41 drug houses.  Repeat calls-for-service at these locations have been reduced by 90%.  Huntington, Parkersburg, Clarksburg, and Fairmont, West Virginia have enacted similar drug house ordinances based on Martinsburg’s to help fight the drug problem.  Under the provisions of the Drug House Ordinance, property owners are subject to fines if they fail to take appropriate action to abate the problem after 30 days of notification.  The Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance applies to owners of both rental and owner-occupied property.