Saturday, November 18, 2017
News Roundup

Motel owner cited for drug activity under New Port Richey's crackdown effort

RECOMMENDED READING


NEW PORT RICHEY — A magistrate on Wednesday held a U.S. 19 motel owner legally accountable for drug activity on his property, making him the first under a new ordinance to have his property flagged as a nuisance to the community.

During a quasi-judicial hearing at New Port Richey City Hall, magistrate Joseph Poblick deemed the Travel Inn, at 7523 U.S. 19, a nuisance after the city presented him with four drug arrests that occurred on the property within a 13-day period in September. Poblick ordered owner Dineshbhai Patel to present a written action plan for combatting the drug activity, but did not levy a $1,000 fine the city sought.

Ordering an action plan is the starting enforcement tier in the ordinance passed in June by New Port Richey council members in response to growing complaints of drugs and prostitution, especially along U.S. 19. If a property owner does not comply with plans submitted to the magistrate, mounting crime can lead to liens, fines and even business closures.

During the hearing Monday, Assistant City Attorney Nicole Nate said the four drug arrests within a narrow time frame illustrate the problems on the property. The cases include an arrest of a woman leaving one room's bathroom where officers found 20 grams of crack cocaine, hand-to-hand drug deals in the parking lot, a man arrested on a warrant who was also found holding cocaine and the synthetic drug spice, according to police reports.

Patel's attorney, Adam Carter, argued that Patel should not be held responsible for drug activity he did not know about and could not see from his office. Carter added his client also cannot violate people's rights by searching them or their rooms to root out illegal activity.

Carter said Patel has already taken steps to combat illegal activity by increasing lighting and making multiple rounds daily on the property.

Nate countered that under the city's ordinance a property owner's knowledge of drug activity is not a factor; only at least three documented arrests within a six-month period on a particular property are needed to seek a nuisance citation. She also disputed Carter's claim that Patel would be violating people's rights by monitoring customers at his own motel.

"This is private property. The owner is the captain of his ship," she said.

Poblick also issued an order for a residential property owner to a submit an action plan after law enforcement made three drug arrests at 6109 Georgia Ave., including the dismantling of a marijuana grow operation. Owner Glenn Gasner apologized for the actions of his tenants in the rental.

"I had no idea any of this was happening," he said.

Comments

Possible wrong-way crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday

TAMPA — A multi-vehicle crash on the Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday may have been caused by a driver traveling in the wrong direction, Tampa police said.The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes closer to the Tampa side of the causeway, near ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Region football: Clearwater Central Catholic 37, Calvary Christian 10

CLEARWATER — The ice bath ensued for Clearwater Central Catholic coach Chris Harvey after the Marauders’ 37-10 victory over Calvary Christian in Friday’s Class 3A region final. The win placed the Marauders (11-0) in their fifth state tournament since...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police took one person into custody late Friday after a drive-by shooting ended in Seminole Heights.The incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., did not appear to be related to the spate of other recent shootings in Seminole Heights that have ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

MELBOURNE — With 1 yard separating Plant from an incredible come-from-behind victory, or a devastating defeat, it all came down to a matter of trust.And for Panthers coach Robert Weiner, there was no one he would put more faith in to get that 1 yard ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

SEFFNER — Hillsborough conquered one nemesis with last week’s win over Class 6A defending state finalist Lake Gibson, the team that knocked the Terriers out of the playoffs in the first round a year ago.But there was an even bigger stumbling block to...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Region football: Ocala Vanguard 35, Mitchell 31

NEW PORT RICHEY — The start wasn’t quite befitting of a playoff game between undefeated teams, but the end of Friday’s war between Ocala Vanguard and Mitchell certainly was.Like last year’s Class 6A regional semifinal, the Mustangs held a three-point...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

ZEPHYRHILLS — For Zephyrhills, Friday night’s Class 5A region semifinal against Green Cove Springs Clay was doomed by 12 bad minutes. The Bulldogs led by four points at halftime but allowed 28 unanswered points in the third quarter and were not able ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood came into Friday’s playoff game knowing its defense had to help control field position against Jesuit. The Spartans (9-1) left Friday’s game with a ticket to Immokalee for a region final — and six Tigers (6-5) turnovers en r...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Region football: Tampa Bay Tech 42, Palmetto 26

TAMPA — Another Friday night, another offensive explosion.Tampa Bay Tech’s offense continued its torrid pace and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. accounted for five total touchdowns as the Titans rolled past Palmetto 42-26 in a Class 7A, Region 3 semifi...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Region football: Cambridge Christian 50, Indian Rocks Christian 14

TAMPA — The Cambridge Christian offense was clicking, and quarterback Jaylin Jackson couldn’t seem to be stopped. Still, as the second quarter clock dwindled, Indian Rocks Christian was hanging around.So with just more than a minute left in the half,...
Updated: 5 hours ago