Squatting ‘Brood’ gang busted in Powellhurst-Gilbert

Neighbors in the vicinity hope things will quiet down, now that these residents have been asked to move on. But several of those arrested are already back on the street …

Officials say neighbors’ complaints led them investigate just who was staying at this outer East Portland residence.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Since January, 2015, a Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood property has been a thorn in the side of neighbors, all of whom own their residences.

According to public records, the house – actually a house and a “condo” building behind it – at 5320 SE 122nd Avenue, one house south of Steele Street – went into foreclosure, and was set for an “Auction Date” of February 13, 2015.

The City of Portland Bureau of Developmental Services (BDS), the agency that investigates and works to solve neighborhood housing violation complaints, posted their first Nuisance/Residential Rental Complaint on January 2, 2015.

This is not a vacant residence, neighbors say – because squatters moved in, and sometimes threatened residents of the townhouse behind the residence.

It took until May of that year for the owner, US Bank designate, Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC of West Palm Beach, Florida, to clean up the property.

For the next year, neighbors kept complaining, while BDS continued working with the title holder.

A new complaint, #3556691, was lodged on August 16, 2016:

“Vacant townhouses have no utilities, but lights are seen on at night, and trash and debris is piling up around garbage cans and on ground. No garbage service.” BDS mailed notices to the owner and re-inspected the property, but problems continued to mount.

“People have been living in there, all right,” a neighbor confirmed – who asked not to be identified, for fear of retaliation. “And this isn’t a poor, homeless family that needs shelter from the cold; I’m pretty sure it’s a gang selling dope, stealing stuff – and who knows what,” the neighbor told East Portland News.

Portland Police SERT officers arrive before sunrise to serve a search warrant.

Problems at this house may change, after members of the Portland Police Bureau SERT served a search warrant for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Special Investigations Unit (SIU).They served the warrant at the house at 5:00 a.m. on October 20.

“The search warrant was part of an investigation being conducted by SIU, in cooperation with the Portland Police Bureau’s Neighborhood Response Team,” reported MCSO Public Information Officer Lt. Chad Gaidos.

“Further investigation revealed the occupants of the home were members of the Brood street gang, who had moved into the homes after they had been left vacant,” Gaidos added.

It appears that Brood members have been selling methamphetamine, stealing cars, and trying to take over the entire property, Gaidos pointed out. “Five suspects were arrested, and detectives recovered methamphetamine, scales, packaging material, a stolen vehicle, and items used for ID theft.”

Although arrested early in the morning, both 47-year-old John Charles Phillips and 20-year-old Charles Cleighton O’Neil were allowed back on the street by a judge later that day. MCDC booking photos

47-year-old John C. Phillips was booked into MCDC that morning at 9:36 a.m. on stolen vehicle charges. After his arraignment, the judge released Phillips from custody, under the “Pretrial Supervised Release Program”.

For 20-year-old Charles Cleighton O’Neil, he had previously been arrested by Gresham Police and booked on stolen vehicle charges at 4:07 p.m. on October 16, and was set free under the same program. Then, he was arrested again on October 20, and booked into MCDC at 9:21 a.m. that day, again on vehicle theft charges. After his arraignment, the judge again released O’Neil from custody under the “Pretrial Supervised Release Program”.

22-year-old Kyleah Marie Hegre, 43-year-old Donald Richard Michaels, and 27-year-old Shawna Deann Rodriguez each are booked on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine and Delivery of Methamphetamine. MCDC booking photos

Starting at 9:22 a.m. on October 20, 22-year-old Kyleah Marie Hegre, 43-year-old Donald Richard Michaels, and 27-year-old Shawna Deann Rodriguez were booked into MCDC on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine and Delivery of Methamphetamine.

At their arraignments that afternoon, Hegre, Michaels, and Rodriguez were each held in custody, in lieu of a combined bail of $55,000 for each of them.

Whether or not this property now remains vacant until there is a new owner remains to be seen, but the neighbors certainly hope so.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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