Columbus Motel Shut Down On Allegations Of Drugs, Prostitution - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Columbus Motel Shut Down On Allegations Of Drugs, Prostitution

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A north Columbus motel has been shut down after being declared a public nuisance. The City Attorney's Office says the business and owners are facing allegations of drug dealing, drug use and prostitution. A north Columbus motel has been shut down after being declared a public nuisance. The City Attorney's Office says the business and owners are facing allegations of drug dealing, drug use and prostitution.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -

The City Attorney's Office is asking that a Columbus motel be declared a public nuisance Wednesday after police shut down the motel and boarded it up based on allegations of drug dealing, drug use and prostitution.

According to Assistant City Attorney Bill Sperlazza, the Columbus Inn & Suites is a source of rampant crime. Sperlazza said Columbus police had been dispatched to the motel almost 500 times between January of 2012 and March of 2013.

The closure displaced customers, some of whom had paid rent in advance for the month. One woman showed NBC4 a receipt for her son who had paid $549 in rent for June. Some the customers were placed in shelters including Maryhaven and the YWCA according to Sperlazza.

Court documents and county property records list the owners of the property on Zumstein Drive as Mohammad Ashraf and Umtul Ashraf. NBC4 was unable to reach the owners for comment.

However, Sperlazza said that the owners were well aware of the problems at their motel because warrants for crimes had been served by police at the front desk in the past.

Kenyunda Weems is a hairstylist who works in a salon behind the motel. Weems says she noticed suspicious behavior and avoided the motel. She says it has impacted her business.

"We have a security door. We keep it locked all the time so it's really hard for us to get walk-ins and stuff around here. So I really have to play it by ear. You know people have to call me and make appointments and stuff. I'm really kind of nervous about meeting these new people that walk around that you don't know anything about," Weems said.

Sperlazza said that the city hopes to ultimately have a judge declare the motel a public nuisance.

The next step will be decided at a hearing on June 26 when the defendants will have a chance to ask that their motel not be boarded up pending the outcome of the case. A trial date will be set at a later date.

Ultimately, Sperlazza said that the motel could be boarded up for one year if a judge deems it is a public nuisance.

The City Attorney's office says it is looking at what if any legal remedy exists to help customers of the motel. Customers may also file a claim in Small Claims Court on the 16th floor of 375 South High Street, 614-645-7381.

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