FOX Chicago, BGA investigate: Suspected drug house owned by ald. - FOX 32 News Chicago

FOX Chicago, BGA investigate: Suspected drug house owned by alderman

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Neighbors say a three-flat apartment building at the corner of 16th and Madison in Maywood was ground zero for crime in a crime-ridden neighborhood. It is empty now; stripped clean of everything but gang graffiti. But, what makes this eyesore unusual is the person who owned it between 2001 and early this year.

In 2011, Jason Ervin was appointed by Mayor Daley to fill the unexpired term of longtime Alderman Ed Smith. Weeks later he won the seat on a promise of cleaning up his troubled ward.

At the same time Ervin was running for office, he had stopped making payments on his rental property in Maywood, which was eventually seized

Records obtained by FOX Chicago and the Better Government Association show that during the roughly ten years Alderman Ervin owned the building, police responded to some 150 calls for service at that address including: drug trafficking, shots fired, fights, assaults, domestic battery, prostitution, and criminal sexual abuse.

Not all of the incidents resulted in arrests, and some occurred on the public area outside of the building. Still, Maywood police referred to it as a "drug house."

Former Maywood sergeant Dwayne Wheeler was head of the department's narcotics unit. He says Ervin, who was Maywood's village manager for much of the time he owned the building, never interfered with police; but also, never sought help.

"It was on our target list. We had a list of properties we would go to on a daily basis. We would do undercover buys at that property," says Wheeler. "The Maywood police department was very good responding to calls in that area. Very good at helping landlords out with narcotics problems and gang issues because they wanted to keep their building clean."

Ervin says he did work with police and told FOX Chicago News by phone that he disagrees with those calling it a drug house.

"The area has had numerous drug problems that (predate my ownership)...it seemed at the time like a very solid investment...it was difficult to find good tenants... I've been through a lot with that building," Ervin said.

"His own constituents now in Chicago, where he's an alderman, should be asking if he can't literally clean up his own front yard or backyard, how's he going to be cleaning up their community on the West Side, which clearly has a lot of problems of a similar nature?" says the Better Government Association's Bob Herguth.

Ervin says he's actually a better Alderman for having owned the building, because now he understands the difficulties that landlords face with problem tenants. Though, he does regret buying it in the first place and has taken a financial bath. He paid $175,000 for the property and it was recently listed by the bank at $35,000.

The Alderman also failed to show up in court for multiple code violations. The village of Maywood fined him more than $1,000 and put a lien on the property.

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