GPD TARGETS NEIGHBORHOOD
Landlord arrested in area drug bust
Published: Monday, March 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2004 at 12:05 a.m.
The arrest of the owner of a house that authorities said was the site of illegal drug activity was part of an effort to eradicate crime in one neighborhood and could be followed by similar charges against other area landlords, police said Sunday.
Ulysses Cobb, 65, of Gainesville, was arrested Friday and charged with maintaining a drug dwelling, a charge that followed several arrests made by police at a house he owns on NW 6th Avenue, near downtown, Gainesville Police Lt. Lonnie Scott said.
Scott said police have made five or six arrests at the property over the past five months on charges that included prostitution and selling drugs.
"We didn't just come in and just say `You're under arrest,' " Scott said. "I spoke with (Cobb) numerous times and offered my assistance, which eventually evolved into my creating a letter and sending him a letter of official notice. I warned him when I hand-delivered the letter that any future arrest at the residence for a narcotics violation would result in his arrest."
Cobb was released from the Alachua County jail on $1,000 bond. When contacted at his home Sunday, he said he would visit the house daily and ask the tenants to leave.
"Officer Scott just didn't give me time to get them out," he said.
Scott said he had been asked by neighborhood residents about the possibility of charges being filed against the landlord. He said he consulted the State Attorney's Office about the charge of maintaining a drug dwelling, which he said is the first such instance of GPD arresting a landlord for that offense.
"This is only the beginning of a new course of action for us," Scott said. "We know a couple of other people who are being targeted."
Under state law, an individual cannot be charged with maintaining a drug dwelling unless there is evidence of knowledge that the activity is occurring, Scott said.
"As long as we know landlords are trying to do something to resolve the problem, such as an eviction, then we are not going to file charges against the landlord," Scott said, adding that he accompanied Cobb to the house on Saturday and ordered those inside to leave.
Tenant DeKettler LaShawn Whickum was also arrested for maintaining a drug dwelling and remained in the Alachua County jail on $5,000 bond Sunday.
Rosa B. Williams lives near the 6th Avenue house and said residents were surprised when they heard police had arrested Cobb.
"It is the first time that has ever happened," said Williams, who is also the chairperson of the Black on Black Crime Task Force. "Most times when landlords have a house, police move one group out and another group moves in."
Rachel Kipp can be reached at (352) 374-5086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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