Thursday, July 10, 2014

City shuts down unit in Sherman Hills

W-B uses ‘one-strike’ law after drugs found in apartment

January 02. 2014 10:12PM

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WILKES-BARRE — The city has shut down an apartment in the troubled Sherman Hills apartment complex where police said they found drugs while investigating a shooting.

The apartment in Building 308 cannot be rented for six months under the city’s “one-strike” ordinance that’s been enforced a number of times since it took effect on Sept. 1. in an attempt to deal with problem properties where gun and drug crimes are committed.

The woman, who lived in the apartment with a small child, and a man drove to a New Jersey hospital on Dec. 27 for treatment of gunshot wounds they said they suffered in an accidental shooting, according to police.

Catherine Thomas, 23, and Lashawn Burgman, 31, of Wyoming, told police they were afraid and fled out-of-town to avoid a police investigation.

Police obtained a search warrant for the rental unit after Thomas refused to allow them in and said the gun was “ditched.”

The warrant allowed police to look for the .380-caliber handgun that Burgman said he bought from a man in a local bar. Police also said they secured another warrant and seized distribution quantities of marijuana and Ecstasy packaged for sale.

Charges are pending against Thomas and Burgman, police said.

City spokeswoman Liza Prokop confirmed the rental unit was shut down under the ordinance and that Sherman Hills management was notified. An eviction notice also was served on the tenant.

“There were narcotics found in that apartment,” she said Thursday.

The shutdown comes as Sherman Hills owners plan to go before the city planning and zoning on Jan. 15 for approval to make significant security improvements at the low-income housing complex that has been the scene of shootings, assaults and drug arrests.

Among the improvements are closing off the North Sherman Street entrance, installing a gate on the main entrance on North Empire Court and manning it around the clock, erecting a fence around the property and having an armed guard patrol the grounds for 10 to 12 hours a day.

The complex has drawn the attention of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that paid approximately $2 million last year to owner Sherman Hills Realty LLC of Brooklyn, N.Y., to house tenants at the 344-unit complex.

HUD called management of the complex unsatisfactory. A local task force formed as a result of the problems at Sherman Hills has also criticized the lax management.

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