City Continues Crack Down on Sober Houses - Carlo De Maria

City Continues Crack Down on Sober Houses

The Mayor, along with the Police, Fire, and ISD departments, are happy to report that despite the lack of available state and federal regulations regarding sober houses, the City has made substantial progress in identifying and controlling these burdensome properties.

 

The Everett Police Department recently reported that investigators assigned to the Everett

Police Special Criminal Investigations Unit executed a search warrant on a sober house located at 304 Broadway.  The search, which occurred on Wednesday October 24th, yielded the seizure of drugs and the arrest of three suspects.

Arrested were John Flagg, 35, and Michael O’Brien, 41 both from Everett, and Danielle Rogovich, 26, of Somerville.  The defendants, who are all being charged with drug related offenses, were arraigned Thursday October 25th in Malden District Court.

Officers armed with a search warrant from Malden District Court, served the warrant at 304 Broadway, Apartment 1.  During the search of the apartment officers observed needles, empty plastic baggies, and a bottle cap consistent with heroin usage.  Substances seized during the search included Suboxone, Adderall, and Zolpidem Tartrate.

Inspectional Services and Code Enforcement were called to the location to assess the living conditions, and deemed the sober house unfit, due to the lack of smoke detectors as well as several other health code violations.

The Manager of the property at 304 Broadway, William Maragioglio, was also served a search warrant on October 3rd for an additional sober house he managed, located at 72 Prescott Street.  The property owner was then notified that the house was in violation of Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 148 Section 26H, which states that any property where six or more unrelated persons reside, must be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system.  Rather than deal with the necessary fire prevention updates, which would have cost several thousand dollars, and the constant Fire, ISD, and Police presence, the owner chose not to renew Maragioglio’s lease. 

The Police, Fire, and ISD departments are currently pursuing several other properties throughout the City, utilizing this same strategy of local enforcement, and hoping to garner similar results.  “This is our goal,” states Mayor DeMaria, “Our Police, Fire, and ISD departments will remain vigilant to the criminal activities and violations occurring at these sober houses, and enforce the rules, ordinances, and laws at our disposal in an effort to halt their operations.”  

A recent topic of concern for residents and City officials, the handful of sober houses popping up in Everett are far from the intended idea of a dwelling that offers alcohol and drug rehabilitation.  True sober houses, which are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, are supposed to be alcohol and drug-free living environments for people in recovery, with requirements such as 12-step meetings attendance and random drug and alcohol screenings for residents.   Unfortunately, the state currently has no official regulations or requirements for such establishments, leaving a large loophole for unscrupulous property owners and tenants, who are simply opening illegal rooming houses under the guise of a sober living facility.  City officials are finding run-down houses, frequented by questionable characters without any supervision or intention of rehabilitation. 

Currently, the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act limits the Commonwealth’s authority to implement mandatory licensure, regulation, registration or certification requirements directed specifically at alcohol and drug free housing providers and residents.  However, the Mayor and his administration remain firm on their intent to seek aggressive action against the troublesome houses.   Since sober houses are still subject to all state and local laws that are applicable to residential properties, the City has been enforcing all health, safety, zoning, building, and fire codes, as well as criminal law requirements on the properties, their owners, landlords, and residents.   “These so-called sober houses are a blight to our City and our neighborhoods,” states Mayor DeMaria, “Since there are no current state or federal regulations that we can apply, we are using every local tool at our disposal to combat these types of establishments.  Owners need to be held accountable for the type of activity that is occurring on their property.”

In addition to local efforts, the Mayor has also appealed to the City’s federal representation regarding concerns involving these establishments, the federal law, and the impact arising in local communities.  The Mayor and his staff recently met with Congressman Mike Capuano, as well as Meagan Greene from Senator John Kerry’s office, to explain the situation surrounding local sober houses and to seek assistance on a federal level.

The administration will continue its efforts, both with local enforcement -vowing to remain vigilant against any other health, safety, building, fire, zoning, and criminal impacts stemming from sober houses in the community – and with continued communication and petitions to state and federal officials. The City asks that residents help contribute to this effort by reporting any information pertaining to the location or illicit activities of alleged sober houses in their neighborhoods.  Residents are urged to call the Mayor’s Office at 617.394.2270 or the Everett Police tip lines - Crime: 617.394.2356, Drug: 617-387-8585.

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