The Motel Caswell is remaining under the ownership of the Caswell family for the forseeable future.
On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein ruled that the Tewksbury motel was not subject to forfeiture, as argued by Federal law enforcement officials.
In her 59-page ruling dismissing the forfeiture action, Dein stated, in part:
"After careful consideration of the evidence, pleadings, and argument of counsel, this Court concludes that the Government has failed to meet its burden of establishing that the Motel is subject to forfeiture."
The U.S. Attorney's Office first took action to seize the Motel Caswell back in September 2009, claiming it had long been a hotspot for srime in Tewksbury, particularly drug activity. Government attorneys cited 15 specific incidents that had taken place between 1994 and 2008 and argued that since owner Russ Caswell lived in a home adjacent to the motel itself, he must have known about the illegal activities engaged in by his guests.
Caswell was being represented pro bono by lawyers from the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based organization that specializes in government forfeiture cases. IJ attorneys argued that Caswell himself had never been accused of any crime or of being involved in any illegal activity. They further argued that over that same 14-year period, the Motel Caswell served roughly 196,000 guests.