Po­lice: Stor­age owner rent­ing units to ten­ants

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMIL­TON ca­hamil­[email protected]­cil­whig.com

— A busi­ness owner ac­cused of al­low­ing peo­ple to live in stor­age units on his com­mer­cial prop­erty in Elkton is fac­ing crim­i­nal charges — af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors cal­cu­lated that of­fi­cers had han­dled 26 calls for ser­vice there in a six-week pe­riod, with the in­ci­dents in­clud­ing heroin over­doses, drug pos­ses­sions, fights, thefts and a stab­bing that also was linked to the place, ac­cord­ing to Ce­cil County District Court records.

Lt. Holly Smith of the Elkton Po­lice Depart­ment ar­rested the busi­ness owner, Wil­bur James Whalen Jr., 66, last week and charged

ELKTON

him with main­tain­ing a drug-re­lated com­mon nui­sance and dis­or­derly house at his Whalen Mini-Stor­age busi­ness in the 400 block of West Main Street, which shares that prop­erty with

another busi­ness Whalen Ra­di­a­tor court records show.

It marks the sec­ond such crim­i­nal case filed against Whalen in two months.

On Oct. 11, af­ter tal­ly­ing nu­mer­ous calls for ser­vice that EPD of­fi­cers had han­dled at Whalen’s busi­ness in the pre­vi­ous sev­eral weeks, Smith ar­rested Whalen and charged him with the same two of­fenses he is fac­ing in his most re­cent case. The in­ves­ti­ga­tor also filed drug charges against Whalen, who al­legedly pos­sessed heroin/fen­tanyl, mor­phine and two pre­scrip­tion painkillers at the time of his ar­rest, court records show. Whalen is await­ing trial in those crim­i­nal cases.

In this lat­est crim­i­nal case, the state­ment of prob­a­ble cause sub­mit­ted by Smith in­di­cates that the 26 calls for ser­vice at Whalen’s stor­age fa­cil­ity oc­curred from Oct. 9 — two days be­fore his ar­rest in the first case — to Nov. 26, the day that Smith ar­rested Whalen in the sec­ond crim­i­nal case, court records show.

Each call for ser vice listed in court records in­cludes a date, time and a syn­op­sis of the in­ci­dent.

Court records in­di­cate, for ex­am­ple, that EPD of­fi­cers re­sponded to an area across the street from Whalen’s Mini Stor­age shortly be­fore 2 a.m. Oct. 13 for a call re­gard­ing a stab­bing. “The in­di­vid­ual ar­rested for the stab­bing was an in­di­vid­ual al­ready iden­ti­fied as liv­ing at of his, Re­pair, The town of Elkton has con­demned Whalen’s Stor­age Fa­cil­ity due to its owner’s rent­ing of units for res­i­den­tial use, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Whalen’s and ar­rested for crimes at Whalen’s,” court records al­lege.

The list of calls for ser­vice in­cludes an Oct. 24 bur­glary com­plaint in which $7,880 in prop­erty was stolen from a stor­age unit there.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion led to the ar­rest of two in­di­vid­u­als who had al­ready been iden­ti­fied as rent­ing a stor­age unit for use as a res­i­dence at Whalen’s,” court records al­lege.

Smith noted in charg­ing doc­u­ments, “There are no res­i­den­tial struc­tures on the prop­erty and it is not zoned for such use.”

In ad­di­tion, court pa­pers list that EPD of­fi­cers han­dled an as­sault at the stor­age fa­cil­ity Oct. 29, con­ducted a court-ap­proved drug raid there Nov. 11, han­dled

a drug over­dose there Nov. 3 and found drugs on the pa­tient, and re­sponded to a “re­port of a sub­ject from Whalen’s seen steal­ing items from a neigh­bor­ing res­i­dence and tak­ing them to Whalen’s” on Nov. 7.

More­over, ac­cord­ing to court records, a nearby res­i­dent re­ported a do­mes­tic dis­tur­bance Nov. 8 in which the woman in­volved in the dis­pute pos­si­bly had a knife. The in­ves­ti­ga­tor re­ported in court records, “Sub­jects in­volved later found re­sid­ing in stor­age unit at Whalen’s.”

The list in­cludes ad­di­tional drug over­doses, as well as oth­ers ar­rests for drug pos­ses­sion, theft and other of­fenses.

“Mul­ti­ple in­di­vid­u­als who have claimed res­i­dency in

a stor­age unit at Whalen’s Mini-Stor­age & Ra­di­a­tor Shop and/or who have been iden­ti­fied as hav­ing been present at Whalen’s MiniS­tor­age & Ra­di­a­tor Shop with as­so­ciates/renters of units for the unau­tho­rized pur­pose of res­i­dency in a stor­age unit, whether re­sid­ing there or vis­it­ing, have been iden­ti­fied as hav­ing vi­o­lent and/or crim­i­nal his­to­ries,” court records al­lege.

The first crim­i­nal case against Whalen iden­ti­fies 33 of those peo­ple, while the most re­cent one iden­ti­fies 12, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Po­lice of­fi­cials and court records al­lege that Whalen is aware that peo­ple are liv­ing in his stor­age units and that he is com­plicit.

“The ru­mor is he is tak­ing cash to let peo­ple live in his stor­age units. He is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor and his prop­erty is act­ing as a flop­house. On a weekly, if not daily ba­sis, we are han­dling calls for ser­vice there, and it (the prop­erty) is a plight on the neigh­bor­hood. The res­i­dents in the neigh­bor­ing homes were thank­ful when he was ar­rested,” Capt. Joseph Zurolo, an EPD spokesman, told the Ce­cil Whig on Tues­day.

In the most re­cent charg­ing doc­u­ment, a call for ser­vice en­try for Nov. 22 reads, “Of­fi­cers con­ducted a prop­erty check at Whalen’s and found stor­age unit 25 with the door par­tially open and set up as a bed­room. They then found two in­di­vid­u­als re­sid­ing in unit 19 with propane heater, cof­fee maker, fur­ni­ture, etc. The of­fi­cers then fol­lowed the ex­ten­sion cords and lo­cated two in­di­vid­u­als re­sid­ing in unit 1 and two in­di­vid­u­als re­sid­ing in unit 2. Of­fi­cers spoke with Wil­bur Whalen and he did not wish for any­one to be re­moved from the prop­erty.”

Ac­cord­ing to court records, Whalen has ig­nored re­peated warn­ings is­sued by au­thor­i­ties and has de­clined as­sis­tance of­fered by EPD, the town’s Build­ing and Zon­ing Of­fice and the Mary­land Of­fice of the State Fire Mar­shal to re­move the peo­ple liv­ing on his com­mer­cial prop­erty.

“Wil­bur Whalen Jr. re­sides on the prop­erty of the busi­ness in vi­o­la­tion of zon­ing and is aware of the in­di­vid­u­als re­sid­ing in the stor­age units and of­fice/garage space. He is aware of the nui­sance is­sues and crimes re­gard­ing (drugs) be­ing com­mit­ted on the prop­erty. Wil­bur Whalen Jr. has ig­nored the use of ex­ten­sion cords by his ‘ten­ants’ to run elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances to stor­age units, the use of propane tanks and heaters in­side stor­age units, the use of stor­age units and the busi­ness of­fice for (drug) ad­min­is­ter­ing/use and has put the sur­round­ing busi­nesses at risk of fire ... As re­cently as Nov. 23, of­fi­cers iden­ti­fied six in­di­vid­u­als in stor­age units and ap­prox­i­mately 15 in­di­vid­u­als in the garage area,” court records al­lege.

Charg­ing doc­u­ments also in­di­cate that a ma­jor fire — it oc­curred in Fe­bru­ary 2014 — de­stroyed sev­eral units at that stor­age fa­cil­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to Ce­cil Whig archives, that blaze caused an es­ti­mated $800,000 in dam­age and it oc­curred nine days af­ter fire­fight­ers had bat­tled a smaller blaze at that prop­erty.

More­over, at that time, MOSFM de­tec­tives re­ported that it ap­peared that a per­son or peo­ple had been liv­ing in the unit in which the fire started — Stor­age Unit 89, which was one of 27 units at Whalen’s Mini Stor­age and was lo­cated in the mid­dle row of the units.

“Ev­i­dence of sleep­ing ma­te­ri­als and use of elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances was lo­cated in­side the unit dur­ing the on­scene in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” a fire mar­shal spokesman said.

In Whalen’s lat­est crim­i­nal case, court records in­di­cate that he posted a $7,500 bond Fri­day to gain his pre-trial free­dom, af­ter spend­ing three days in the Ce­cil County De­ten­tion Cen­ter. Be­fore his bail re­view hear­ing, Whalen had been held with­out bond, court records show.

Ce­cil County Sher­iff Scott Adams ad­dresses the crowd af­ter tak­ing his oath of of­fice dur­ing Mon­day’s in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony in North East.

WHALEN

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

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