City of Ypsilanti takes aim at alleged drug house on Charles Street
The city of Ypsilanti has filed court papers seeking to temporarily shut down a man’s home where officials say there has been a history of illegal drug activity.
Sascha Lahti, 35, who was charged earlier this month with maintaining a drug house, now must appear in front of a judge and explain why his home at 411 Charles Street shouldn't be declared a nuisance.
On May 9, the city filed a nuisance abatement complaint against Lahti, asking for a court order to padlock his home on the city's east side. If the order is granted, the home could be padlocked for up to a year and Lahti would have to find another place to live, Ypsilanti police Det. Sgt. Troy Fulton said.
Fulton said the city takes such action against two to three homes or businesses a year. The reason: It's an owner's responsibility to control what happens at a house, Fulton said.
Since January, police have conducted two drug raids at the house, the complaint says, responded to two overdoses there and made three arrests at or near the home. During the drug raids, the complaint says, investigators seized more than 10 grams of heroin, hypodermic needles, burnt spoons, prescription pills, two digital scales and other items.
When authorities responded to the overdoses, the complaint says, they recovered items including a bloody syringe, large amount of prescription drugs, a rifle and large quantity of ammunition. The complaint also alleges that Lahti has rented rooms to as many as four unrelated people, violating zoning regulations.
Lahti is disputing the claims. He said he's a recovering heroin addict and hasn’t rented rooms to anyone. He said he has been letting people he met at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings stay at his home at no cost during recovery. Some have gone back to using drugs, he said.
“There was drug use here,” he said. “There was no dealing here or anything like that, but there were people using.”
Since the city has cracked down, he said, he's kicked everyone out and put the home up for sale. The home is on the market for $30,900. City records show Lahti bought it for $135,000 in 2006, and its assessed value is $44,400 - giving it an estimated market value of $88,800.
Lahti said he thinks the city is "blowing this out of proportion." He said none of the drugs were his.
"I was just trying to be personally friendly and nice to the people of AA who were trying to do better," he said.
The court papers include affidavits from three neighbors who say that people and cars come and go from the property at all hours. In the affidavits, the three expressed concerns for their safety and the safety of children in the neighborhood.
City Attorney John Barr said, "What the city is seeking is to make this a safe and secure neighborhood and to get rid of all the illegal activity in the area."
Lahti is scheduled to appear in front of Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Melinda Morris on June 1 to explain why his home shouldn't be declared a nuisance. He is scheduled to return to court in his criminal case on May 26.
If convicted of maintaining a drug house, he faces up to two years in prison.