Archive for Friday, July 18, 2003

Ex-tenant: Manager knew about drug deals

Former Pine Haven resident says management did nothing to clean up complex

July 18, 2003


A former tenant of a run-down Lawrence apartment complex came forward this week to say the apartment manager was well-aware of drug dealing at the property despite assertions to the contrary.

"She knew what was going on. I told her many, many times," said Renee Hall, 68, a former resident of Pine Haven Court, a row of town homes near 19th Street and Haskell Avenue. "She was a very nice lady, but I could never figure out why she allowed that to happen."

Earlier this year, after learning of drug and other problems at Pine Haven, the complex's Hollywood-based owner, Thomas L. Roberts, fired the manager and turned management of the property over to M & M Rentals, 1800 E. 23rd St.

Roberts told the Journal-World he didn't think the previous manager -- his sister, Heather S. White -- knew the apartments were becoming a haven for drug dealing. Roberts complained that police never told White about the drug dealing and said that if police had, the problem would have been cleaned up immediately.

Roberts also said he thought White had a hard time keeping tabs on the property because she lived in Johnson County.

Former Pine Haven Court resident Hall said she was angry when she saw Roberts' remarks in the newspaper. Hall said White spent a lot of time at the town homes but never got tough on suspicious activity.

"I said, 'I think those people are selling drugs out in that parking lot,' and she said, 'No, I don't think they are,'" Hall said. "I would call her so many times because they would just be lined up in the parking lot. ... She would walk out there and tell them to leave, and yet she still moved more of them in there."

Former Pine Haven Court resident Renee Hall is happy to be in a new
apartment, but she's angry that her former landlord has denied
knowledge of drug dealing at Pine Haven.

Former Pine Haven Court resident Renee Hall is happy to be in a new apartment, but she's angry that her former landlord has denied knowledge of drug dealing at Pine Haven.

Earlier this year, a 28-year-old Pine Haven resident was convicted in federal court of dealing crack cocaine from the town homes.

Hall, a waitress, said she moved out of Pine Haven in November because she felt uncomfortable there and wanted to get away from the drugs. She now lives in an apartment near Free State High School.

White, contacted by telephone and asked how much she knew about drug dealing at Pine Haven, said, "I don't know exactly all what happened there. If you have other questions, call the owner. Please, don't bother me anymore."

In March, Pine Haven's new management began efforts to collect on unpaid rent and ultimately emptied the entire complex. The same happened at another of Roberts' properties, an apartment building at 1137 Tenn. where Roberts said many friends and family members of Pine Haven residents lived.

Former 1137 Tenn. resident Catina Franklin wouldn't comment about White's involvement at her complex, but Franklin did say that she was having a hard time finding a new apartment.

Most of the women who used to live in the complex are now staying in shelters, Franklin said, adding that she's staying with her mother in a trailer in south Lawrence.

"I was just turned down for a place yesterday," Franklin said Thursday. "We're out like $130 in applications alone."

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