Lawsuit seeks to evict 5 accused of dealing drugs City state's attorney uses nuisance abatement law

November 08, 1995|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The city state's attorney's office has filed civil lawsuits to evict five people accused of dealing drugs and endangering families in the historic Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Armistead Gardens.

It is the latest effort by law enforcement officials to rid Baltimore of the drug menace by using the nuisance abatement law, under which the city can force accused drug dealers from their homes.

Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier scheduled a news conference today in Armistead Gardens to announce the lawsuits and bring attention to the initiative resulting in hundreds of evictions citywide.

"We will not tolerate the sale of illegal drugs by our residents or by their guests," a statement by Armistead Homes Corp. said. "All possible steps to stop this cancer must and will be taken."

The city began taking civil action two years ago to do what it said many landlords would not: evict tenants who deal drugs from the homes. The Armistead lawsuits were filed by Mrs. Jessamy and the neighborhood association. Trial dates are scheduled for Dec. 1.

Armistead Gardens, a rowhouse development that is home to 1,500 families, is bounded by Pulaski Highway, Erdman Avenue and a strip shopping center. It was built during World War II for industrial workers at Sparrows Point. Homeowners signed 99-year leases.

Many current homeowners are related to the original homeowners, but only one person named in the lawsuits holds the lengthy lease. Others either sublet or are guests.

Claude Edward Hitchcock, a lawyer representing the homeowner association, said the drug problem is "not super bad yet. But it's getting worse. It is now enough of a problem where the board decided it must take action."

The lawsuits name the defendants as Julie Ann Faidley and Mark Oran Davis Sr., of the 5100 block of Wright Ave.; Mark Oran Davis Jr., of the 900 block of Rodman Way; and Thoyt Dean Hackney and Michael Konarski, of the 1100 block of Metzgar Way.

In each case, court papers claim the defendants "engaged in a pattern and practice" of using the property for selling drugs.

All of the defendants except for the junior Mr. Davis have been criminally charged with selling drugs and have been found guilty.

Searches of the homes turned up marijuana and cocaine, as well as scales, crack pipes and guns, police said. At the house on Wright Avenue, police said they found eight shotguns, a rifle with a scope and two handguns.

The state's attorney's office has used the nuisance abatement law 694 times.

Nearly half of the cases have been resolved, either by an eviction or an agreement with the owner not to rent to drug dealers.

The other cases have been dropped, either by an investigation that found the drug complaints unfounded or because neighbors would not follow through on complaints.

The state's attorney's office has gone to court to try cases only 22 times.

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