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UPDATED: Caswells Lose Round 1, Forfeiture Case Heading To Trial

Federal judge denies motion by Motel Caswell lawyers to dismiss the case.

Round 1 has gone to the Federal Government in their property forfeiture case against t

But lawyers representing the motel and its owner, Russ Caswell, say the fight is a long way from over.

According to a press release issued last week by The Institute for Justice, U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein, denied a motion by Caswell that the government's case be dismissed on procedural and Constitutional grounds.

As a result, the case will move forward to trial in U.S. District Court, some time later this year.

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed. We would have liked to have this whole thing taken care of," said Russ Caswell. "But it may be a blessing in disguise. It will give us more of a chance to get our side of things out there and show just how ridiculous this whole thing is."

Two years ago, under Federal Civil Forfeiture Laws, the U.S. Department of Justice began forfeiture proceedings against Caswell and his motel. In its complaint, the government alleges a pattern of ongoing drug trafficking and other illegal activities by guests at the motel and that Caswell has not done enough to try and stop such activities.

Last year, the case caught the attention of The Institute For Justice, a non-profit law firm that specializes in battling the U.S. Government in the courtroom, if it believes the government has overstepped its bounds. The group agreed to defend Caswell for free.

"The Caswells are innocent of any wrongdoing and for 30 years have done their best to maintain a crime-free and safe budget motel," said Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, in the press release. "This case shows all that is wrong with civil forfeiture and we look forward to demonstrating that at trial."

Russ Caswell was not immediately available for comment on the initial court ruling.

shawn April 30, 2012 at 12:15 PM
The feds should look at other motels in the area they can't control what's going on 24/7 in each hotel or motel. Motel 6 has high prostitution rate since they opened up I don't see anyone breaking down their doors and trying to close them up.
malcolm nichols April 30, 2012 at 01:10 PM
"laws that allow the government to take private property without convicting or even accusing the property owner of a crime—will go to trial before the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts". Think about it. This is absurd.
Jim April 30, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Close this dump! Why does Tewksbury have so many motels anyway? Is Tewksbury a tourism destination or does the town just want a high number of transients, drug dens and seedy flop houses?
Melissa Gleaton April 30, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I'm not a fan of the Caswell by ANY means, but that doesn't mean that I think the government has the right to barge in and TAKE it from them.
Dirk Anderson April 30, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I'm quite torn on this one. On the one hand, I'm fairl sure all of our property values would go up the day this dump closes. On the other hand, I read the police reports, and isn't Motel6 worse?? I don't think a week goes by we're someone isn't assaulted, drug busts etc.
kck April 30, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I find it ironic that the state of Massachusetts once used the Caswell to house it's overflow section 8 families. I'm assuming they no longer do that, given the proceedings against the Caswell. So - it was okay to use the Caswell when they needed it, as a cheap alternative to apartments, but now it is not fit to operate in Tewksbury. I think the place is a dump, but Motel 6 is probably a dump too. It doesn't seem right that the government, with the help of the Tewksbury Police, can just take property away from Mr. Caswell's family, just like that. It is frightening. Sanction the guy, make him clean up the Caswell's operation, something short of taking it away. And, if the Caswell has to abide by the standards set by the feds, then so must the Motel 6.
Billy Boudry April 30, 2012 at 03:54 PM
There is no doubt seedy things are going on there and at motel 6, if it legal to do so by all means take them both out, and while your at it there are other seedy businesses in town that need cleaning up, like Simply self storage, these clowns steal from their own customers and then claim there is no video surveillance even though it says it in the office, then when you claim it's an inside job they point out they leave the gates open all the time during snow storms for the plows to get in, great stuff.
Ed April 30, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Big BANKS have a notorious history of removing people from their homes under shady conditions then selling the improved homes at great PROFIT. This is wrong. This is an example of how our own Government (By the people for the people?) is attempting to initiate the same shady deals as the Mortgage Banks...FOR PROFIT. These actions by Big Government are wrong. Who's next? What is the VALUE of a DEED if it is not safe from Big Government? Where's Obama's Csar? lol
Rick M April 30, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Hire police details for any hotel that has had more than 6 arrests in a year....keeping a cop on scene will force rates up and keep a deterrent for places that have a proven track record. No need for us taxpayers to be burdened while hotel owners reap profits from undesirables. If businesses close as a result, then the owners can sell their property without tying up the courts.
Steve Magplate April 30, 2012 at 05:29 PM
The Constitution only allows the government to take private property for "public use" and then only after paying "just compensation" (fifth amendment). This action is reprehensible. The town had ample opportunity to shut the Caswell down by denying their license to operate a long time ago. As an aside, comparing this to a person that doesn't meet the financial obligations of a legally binding contract that was entered into voluntarily is not valid. Virtually all home foreclosures occur more than a year after the loans become delinquent. Banks are losing their shirts when they are sold, although this is a recent trend.
Jennifer Nagle April 30, 2012 at 06:50 PM
An awful lot of comments of "if you do this to Caswell, what about Motel 6?" Just to let you know, the Feds won't bother with Motel 6. They are specifically targeting Caswell because it is privately owned - Motel 6 is a chain, therefore deeper pockets, better lawyers, more time and money to drag on a court battle for at least the rest of our lives, whereas caswell is just a one man army, so to speak. I don't agree with what is attempting to transpire here, whether one is a fan of the caswell or not, this is a shameful use of power by our Government.
malcolm nichols April 30, 2012 at 07:04 PM
"Obamanible"
Lori May 01, 2012 at 12:44 AM
I lived in Tewksbury for over 25 years, raised my family there and I still work there. I still love the town. As for the Caswell - It's a dump and if it closed down everyone's property value would probably go up. And as a previous writer stated, it was a place that the state of Massachusetts housed their section 8 overflow welfare families. Not sure if this is still the case. I did an internship at the probation department in Lowell Superior Court and a lot of parolees listed the Caswell as their home address. It seems the police are called there every week. As for Motel 6, while the police have been called there as well on more than one occasion, I don't think it's as bad or has as bad a reputation. It does provide a cheap, relatively clean place for people who need an inexpensive place for the night, whether it be an abused spouse or tired truck driver on 495 driving long hours and needing a place to sleep. I know both that have used the Motel 6 in that capacity. That being said, I don't think the Feds have the right to take anybody's property away from them. If they are in violation of town or state ordinances, those authorities have the right to suspend or revoke their license to do business. The owner can always sell the property - the location on Rt. 38 would make it easy to sell. Taking it away is not right.
SoxFan May 04, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Motel 6 at least makes an effort -- they hire police details to monitor the property on weekends.
Make A Difference May 08, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Exactly. couldn't agree more.
Make A Difference May 08, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Everyone here makes a valid point. Just a reminder though, just because you close this place down doesn't necessarily mean the drugs and crimes are going to disappear. I wouldn't be surprised if more things began to happen at motel 6. It is just sad because we all know that the people who live there do not make a lot of money and have things such as drugs and crime consume their lives. I wish we could could come together as a commuter and maybe have social workers come in or someeethinggg to reach out in help. Because you have to remember you want to close the place down but that means more homeless people. If that was you and your life was that twisted wouldn't you be upset that people like us are so willing to just quickly close this place down just to make the town look better. (obviously also trying to lower crime rates) But don't you want to show understanding for these people who clearly just took the wrong path and could potentially want out and just don't know how. Just a thought.
steve123 May 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM
TO Mr Caswell, Keep up the fight, this is appalling to believe that this is even a possibility in year 2012. I don't live in Tewksbury, but I do believe that the town has many eye sores just like most towns. To be honest, I think South Tewksbury is more of an eye sore. This isn't even about the Motel its about our rights and if we allow or support this because we don't like the place then we as a country will all be at risk. For example if I work hard and purchase investment properties and one of my tenants has illegal activity that I am unaware of, the government and local authorities can seize my property and take all the profit that I've worked my entire life for. Isn't this still AMERICA wake up people its so much bigger than Motel Caswell, stand up for something before its too late!
Sue June 24, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Lets clean up one by one. The Caswell's are nothing but slum lords. Of course these people know what is going on in those rooms. Give me a break this should have happened decades ago. Surely the town would stand behind them if they made any effort to clean up this roach fest but they haven't. Respectable and responsible property owners these are not, after all they rent by the hour. They are a disgrace and should be ashamed of themselves. Please do not feel badly for these people because they truly do not deserve it. This has been going on for decades and they made no effort to do anything about it. I am not for government taking anyone's property but if it is for the good of mankind by all means do what you need to because the Caswell's sure won't.
Melissa Gleaton June 25, 2012 at 03:06 AM
You are either for the government taking someone's private property or you are not. There is no "for the good of mankind".
Christina Rohrbacher July 05, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Why don't we take away their hotel license? There is no need to go against our nation's constitution and take someone's property. I like to think I live in a country where I am protected from this happening.
Christina Rohrbacher July 05, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I agree!!!
Christina Rohrbacher July 05, 2012 at 01:12 PM
To Sue, Melissa is right. You cannot have it both ways. Either our property is collectively protected under the constitution, or it isn't.
Christina Rohrbacher July 05, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Also, you sound like a townie-busy-body with nothing better to do than to demonize American citizens who have not committed any crime themselves. Property is property you cannot take without just compensation.
malcolm nichols July 05, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Bring in the NAACP.
J. S. July 05, 2012 at 03:12 PM
How is this any different than taking away someone's home who repeatedly has the police called there? Would that be ok? I assume not. The government should never be allowed to seize personal property, especially if they will then profit from it. I am glad to see that people are standing up for the Caswell's.
Sue July 05, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I liked your first comment better Christina. taking away their license would be a solution. Thank you I never thought of that. I guess I am so frustrated by the situation and find it morally wrong what they do there. My old neighbor was a housekeeper there and these people clearly know what is going on in their rooms but it brings in money for them. In my opinion it makes them accessories to the crime but I am not a lawyer just a frustrated townie who knows a thing or two about what actually goes on there. Also I am not a busy body with nothing to do just the opposite but a townie yes and I love this town.
Janellen27 July 05, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Q: What in the world does the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) have to do with The Caswell? Just wondering . . . . By the way, The Caswell and Motel 6 aren't the only problems in town, though that's two more than we need right there. I hear the Extended Stay has quite a drug business going on as well; stands to reason there would be the accompanying activities (prostitution, assaults, robberies, etc.). It bothers me that we have any motels/hotels because all they really do for the town is draw drug dealers and hookers and tie up the Police, Fire and Ambulance who we have hired to protect our own citizens. If they're busy at The Caswell, The Motel 6, The Extended Stay, and other every night of the week, what do you think happens when someone in So. Tewksbury is experiencing a home invasion at gunpoint, for example, or a heart attack, or child seizure, and so on. This Caswell Story has been going on for decades. It's not new and nobody tried to take away anyone's property without real good reason and plenty of warnings. They tell me you can see the bedbugs scrambling around in the rooms. . . added to the prostitution, drugs, A&B's, OD's, etc.. (On the other hand, if The Caswell goes out, that's a huge chunk of change lost for the Chinese Restaurant across the street, too!)
Marie P Garavanian July 06, 2012 at 01:29 AM
What large corporation or financial entity is behind taking the Caswell's valuable commercial hotel property away and hiding behind the pretense "for the good of the community?" If you want the drug and prostitution trades to be eliminated, start the process in your own homes. Eliminate smoking pot, excessive use of alcohol, loosely taught morals or none at all, etc. When you allow a government to take property under thinly disguised righteous laws, then you are destroying Democracy. From The One
Janellen27 July 06, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Marie, you sound like you may be new in town, or at least naively uninformed about the decades-old goings on at The Caswell. There is an immense history here of things that would make your hair stand on-end and non-compliance. Do a little backfround research and it will make a bit more sense to you.

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