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Embattled Mosley Motel battles back with lawsuit against St. Pete

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Mosley Motel on 34 Street North near Fifth Avenue in St. Pete has been the source of nearly constant conflict with the city and police for years. Police have long argued the low-cost motel is the source of disproportionate criminal activity and the city has taken numerous steps to scale back the rampant calls for service.

Now the motel is suing the city, saying those allegations have been manufactured.

Mosley owners are facing their most recent challenge by the city’s Nuisance Abatement Board on June 24. The results of that meeting could mean a major fine or even a potential shutdown.

Mosley Motel owners Julius Mosley and Michael Shimshoni, in a lawsuit filed by attorneys May 21, are asking a judge to bar the city from pursuing the latest complaint.

The latest complaint from the city argues at least 10 cases of illegal drug sales on the Mosley property.

Part of the reason the issue is so heated is the long history Mosley has with the city. This isn’t the first time St. Pete officials have tried to wrangle the motel to cut back on crime.

In 2011 the city voted to shut down a wing of the hotel containing 40 rooms. The vote applied for one year and came with a laundry list of must-fixes to avert total shutdown.

However, two years later, as the city still grappled with what to do about rampant crime on the property, the Tampa Bay Times highlighted it as a source of refuge for some of the city’s most financially strapped families. The feature highlighted Mosley’s problems with crime. It even noted one mom who didn’t want to be there, but thought it was better than being nowhere at all.

According to that feature, the city had entered into its fifth attempt to shut the motel down since 1996. But even though many of the families, about 27 of them at the time of the Times’ feature, thought the motel wasn’t exactly a luxury resort, it was all they had and they were grateful for it.

Earlier this year, a man was arrested for allegedly beating a 3-month-old baby. He was questioned at Mosley where he lived. When police arrived there were five other children with him.

Despite the lengthy and damning track record, the Mosley suit calls the allegations of its “acrimonious history” “manufactured.”

Mosley isn’t the only low-cost motel to find itself in hot water.

The abatement board heard testimony from anonymous undercover detectives earlier this year who facilitated a drug buy on a property across the street from Mosely during a quasi-judicial hearing earlier this year.

Those proceedings dragged on and on with lawyers examining and cross-examining witnesses with as much to-do as any Hollywood courtroom drama. The meeting finally had to be cut short with the promise of rules governing how many times the attorney could jump back in with a new line of questioning.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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