» News

news graphic

Friday, August 24, 2012

City Attorney Contact: (510) 238-3148
On line at www.oaklandcityattorney.org

Court issues final judgments in prostitution hotel cases
Hotels to remained closed, City to hold Anti-Nuisance Workshop Aug. 31 for hotels & liquor stores

OAKLAND, CA – This week an Alameda County Superior Court judge issued final judgments in the City’s legal battle against two hotels that were centers of prostitution and child sex trafficking in Oakland.

In judgments issued August 21, Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte ordered the National Lodge and the Economy Inn to remain closed for a period of one year – the maximum penalty allowed by state law. The judge also ordered two defendants in the Economy Inn case, and three defendants in the National Lodge case, to each pay civil penalties of $15,000. Defendants also must pay the City’s legal and investigative costs related to the cases.

“The court’s decision to close these hotels will make a tremendous difference for residents and businesses in these communities,” City Attorney Barbara Parker said. “Both hotels have an appalling record of supporting and profiting from this criminal industry – an industry based on horrific abuse of women and girls in our community. This decision sends a clear message that we will not allow businesses in Oakland to make a living from abuse and exploitation of women and girls.”

Parker thanked the Neighborhood Law Corps – the community law unit in the City Attorney’s Office – for its handling of the lawsuits against the hotels. Parker also thanked Oakland Police Department Special Victims Unit, the East Bay Asian Youth Center (EBAYC) and residents in the San Antonio neighborhood for their work on the cases and their testimony in court.

“These hotels have been a significant blight and a magnet for serious crimes in our neighborhood,” said City Councilmember Patricia Kernighan, who testified in the cases. “I hope they will be replaced by lawful businesses that benefit the economy and quality of life in the community.”

The judgments this week confirm tentative rulings issues by the judge on May 29. Both hotels have been closed since the end of July. A hearing is scheduled on August 31 to appoint a receiver to secure the properties and ensure they do not become nuisances.

The City will hold an Anti-Nuisance Workshop for owners of hotels, motels and liquor stores from 10:30 to noon on August 31. The workshop will give information to owners about their responsibilities under the law and what they can do to prevent crime and nuisance activity on their properties.

Notes on cases:

The City of Oakland declared the Economy Inn a public nuisance in 2005 based on years of complaints about drug and prostitution activity. However, prostitution and related crimes continued unabated at the hotel. In recent years, there have been numerous incidents of rape, kidnapping and violence – many involving victims as young as 14 who were forced to work as prostitutes at the Economy Inn.

In December 2010, the Neighborhood Law Corps sued the Economy Inn and the National Lodge under California’s Red Light Abatement Act (Penal Code § 11225). The law requires hotel owners to prevent prostitution at their properties, and allows the City to seek a one year closure, and other remedies, if the hotels fail to meet that responsibility. The City’s lawsuits cite multiple incidents of crime and prostitution, including child prostitution.

In October 2011, the court ordered preliminary injunctions against both hotels. The injunctions required the owners to make some improvements to security, including the installation of security cameras. The City argued in court that the prostitution and crime would continue unless the hotels were closed.

Summary of Evidence:

  • National Lodge – owned by the Patel family at 1711 International Blvd. City’s evidence cites numerous police reports for prostitution involving undercover officers – including three involving underage girls.
  • Economy Inn – owned by the Khatri family at 122 E. 12th Street. City’s evidence includes six incidents of rape – three of those involving minors. In one case, a 14 year old girl was raped by two men at the motel. In another case, OPD rescued a 16 year old girl who was kidnapped, taken to the Economy Inn and forced to work as a prostitute. In another case, a woman was kidnapped from a gas station in Sacramento, forced to work as a prostitute in Oakland and raped by a pimp at the Economy Inn. There are numerous other police reports about violence and prostitution, including child prostitution, at the property. In 2008, a minister helping a prostitute escape from her pimp was shot by the pimp in the parking lot of the Economy Inn. A man was murdered in room 214 of the Economy Inn during a botched robbery by two prostitutes and a pimp. The owners of the Economy Inn had another motel in Redwood City that was closed under the Red Light Abatement Act in 1991.