Landlord in San Francisco's Tenderloin accused of harboring gang

Since 2009

The City has sued the landlord of a Tenderloin apartment building for allegedly forcing tenants to live in bedbug-ridden squalor with drug-dealing gang members keeping them “like prisoners in their own homes.”

The public nuisance lawsuit, filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office in Superior Court last week, targets the owner of a six-story, 88-unit apartment building at 245 Leavenworth St. It claims John Wai has kept the building in substandard conditions despite repeated violation notices since 2009.

In addition to bedbug infestations, garbage piled outside, mold and mildew, and a damaged elevator and apartment doors inside, Herrera alleged that Wai allows the building to be used as a headquarters by members of the Cambodian Crips to sell drugs and conduct other criminal activity.

The landlord’s “continued defiance has left The City with no choice but to seek a court order to protect tenants and neighbors,” Herrera said in a statement.

The lawsuit cites 13 separate police reports between 2009 and 2011 that refer to the alleged activities of the gang — also known as “TL,” “Thug Lords” and “245” — at the building and in the surrounding area.

In May 2010, a resident chased a man from his apartment after the man punched his fist through his window, but the resident was swarmed outside by at least 10 other males who punched him in the head and neck, according to one report.

The resident told police that the group regularly loitered outside the building and threatened residents. Four of the suspects were later identified as members of the Cambodian Crips.

A July 2010 report said residents of the property had previously told police they felt like “prisoners in their own homes” because of the criminal activity and intimidation by the gang.

Other reports noted sales of marijuana, hashish, oxycodone, crack cocaine and heroin in front of the property and on the block; violation of a stay-away order from the property by a suspect on felony probation; and assaults and drive-by shootings in the area by members of the gang.

Efforts to reach Wai on Sunday were unsuccessful.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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