Mothers fight eviction notices
The mothers of two teen-agers arrested during a drug sweep of a Baldwin Borough apartment complex argued Tuesday that they shouldn’t be evicted from their homes just because their children are charged with crimes.
“I had no knowledge that my daughter was engaging in drug activities,” Ronnette Shannon told District Justice Jack Bova of Baldwin.
Shannon’s 17-year-old daughter was arrested March 21 during a predawn raid on the Green Meadows apartment complex.
“How can I work and supervise her too?” Shannon said.
Shannon was one of six Green Meadows tenants who faced eviction hearings yesterday because of drug activities or other lease infractions. Bova heard the cases brought against the tenants by Home Properties Inc. of New York, owner of the complex, and is expected to rule by Friday.
Both sides will have 10 days to appeal Bova’s ruling to Allegheny County Court.
Seventeen people, including three juveniles, were arrested in the predawn raid by Allegheny County and Baldwin police, which followed seven months of investigation. The adults were charged with dealing crack cocaine, while the youths were charged with possession and conspiracy.
Five teams of police officers swarmed around the 1,071-unit apartment complex before dawn March 21, looking for 25 people wanted on drug charges.
Home Properties wants to evict not only tenants involved in the drug raid but also the families of seven children charged in a rampage March 13 in the apartment of two young women. Police say the children, ranging in age from 8 to 12, stole food and groped the women. Five boys and two girls were charged with theft, burglary and robbery, and the boys also were charged with indecent assault.
Lisa Vickers, mother of two of the children charged in that incident, failed to appear for her eviction hearing yesterday. Alison Hardin and Heather Prince, the mothers of the other children, are scheduled to appear at 2:45 p.m. April 17 for their eviction hearings.
Home Properties was awarded a default judgement in the case against Vickers because she did not show up for the hearing.
Bova also awarded default judgments in the cases of two other residents — Rayone Aziz and Bonita Williams — who were not at the hearing. Home Properties said the two should be evicted because they or a member of the household were arrested in the drug raid. Aziz remains jailed on drug charges.
“We don’t normally take people out of jail on a civil matter,” Bova explained.
Aziz’s father attended the eviction hearing but was not allowed to ask for a continuance on her behalf. He was assured that, with written permission, he could collect her belongings from the apartment.
The district justice granted a one-week continuance to Edwina Mixon, whose son, Sha-Ron Jackson, 18, was arrested during the drug raid. Mixon’s boyfriend said she is hospitalized.
Pamela Thomas, who is facing eviction because her teen-age son was arrested in the drug raid, argued, “Whatever he did out in the streets, he did out on the streets.
“I was completely surprised,” she told Bova.
Terri Howard, one of those being evicted because she was arrested in the March 21 raid, argued that she has not yet been convicted of any crime.
“I just got caught up with the wrong people,” Howard told Bova. She asked the district justice to postpone her eviction until her son finishes fourth grade.
Lee Frank, a Green Meadows employee, testified that tenants sign a lease stating that they and any other residents of the apartment will abide by the rules of the complex and a drug-free housing addendum.
“The tenant agrees to comply with the rules and regulations,” Frank said. “You’re not allowed to have drugs, and that includes your family and guests.”
Robert E. Bittner, attorney for Green Meadows, said the drug-free housing provision is a “one-strike addendum.”
Bittner said several of the residents evicted yesterday were behind in rent payments. The rent was due April 1, but many of the residents don’t pay until the end of the 10-day late fee grace period, he explained.
“I feel that I’m innocent and I don’t owe them any rent,” said Marie Moore, one of those being evicted after being arrested in the drug raid. “I had a drug problem (in the fall), but I have been in recovery for two months.”
Green Meadows officials also are asking that each of those being evicted be required to pay the court cost of $79.50.