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Sheriff puts Gold Rock motels on notice

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The former Days Inn hotel in Gold Rock has an unsecured chain link fence around the perimeter. The front entrance of the building is also unsecured.

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By LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NASHVILLE — Authorities have called out two motels reputed to be the worst locations for criminal activity in the Gold Rock area.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone sent certified letters to the owners and operators of the Ashburn Inn of Gold Rock at 7531 N.C. 48 and Gold Rock Inn & Suites at 7688 N.C. 48 informing them their property was being used in a manner considered illegal and were the target of pending civil action.

Once a tourist stop on Interstate 95 in northern Nash County, Gold Rock motels are now the sight of numerous narcotics and prostitution investigations, according to the letters mailed in late February and early March and obtained by the Telegram on Monday after a public records request.

Gold Rock Inn Manager Masood Khan said the motel isn't the site of any illegal activity.

“Most of what you report doesn't reflect Gold Rock,” Khan said. “It's not like that here.”

Ashburn Manager Brenna Edler didn't return a message left for her at the motel.

Letters also went out to property owners, deed holders and bankers in Halifax, Va.; Cordelia, Ga.; and Long Beach, Calif.

Reported crimes at the motels include drug possession and deals; prostitution; fights and assaults; and repeated activities that create a breach of the peace, according to the letters.

“Citizens in the community have repeatedly complained to law enforcement authorities about such activities occurring upon your property,” Stone stated in the letters.

N.C. General Statutes Chapter 19 allows local governments to file nuisance abatement lawsuits to close businesses that are the location of criminal activity. Possible penalties include forfeiture of property, court-ordered closure of businesses, permanent restrictions on the use of the property, civil fines, accounting, liens and invalidation of leases, according to the letters.

Stone said he's working with some of the other motel owners to avoid having to close them down.

The Rocky Mount Police Department and the Sheriff's Office answered hundreds of calls to motels in the area last year. Some of the motels also owe millions in mortgages, back property taxes and aren't collecting as much tourism tax as other area inns, a Telegram investigation found.

N.C. Alcohol Enforcement, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, the county tax office, social services, health officials, fire inspectors and law enforcement all have been involved.

Nash County Commissioner Lou Richardson, who represents the area, said she spent some time observing activity at some of the motels from her car. The entire board is scheduled to tour the area after its regularly scheduled meeting April 3.

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