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Suspected brothel closed

City responds to Roxbury complaints, but no arrests made

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By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / September 2, 2011

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Neighbors in this working-class Roxbury neighborhood suspected that the large beige stucco house on Mount Pleasant Avenue was being used for something other than a two-family home: There was a constant flow of male visitors, and scantily clad women were frequently seen rushing out the front door demanding payment from fleeing men.

Two weeks ago, responding to complaints from residents, authorities visited the house and spoke with the owner, Fard Ahmed, who told them that prostitutes visit the 12-room house, according to an official with the city’s Inspectional Services Department. Ahmed said he rented rooms out to satisfy “supply and demand.’’

“If they know prostitutes are coming in and out of my house, why didn’t they arrest them,’’ Ahmed said yesterday afternoon in a phone interview a day after the house was shut down for code violations. “Listen, I rent out a couple of rooms to various people because there is a market, but prostitution can happen anywhere, it can happen at any hotel in the city.’’

Ahmed, 74, was convicted in 2004 in Roxbury District Court of keeping a house of prostitution and was sentenced to a year in jail. In 2009, he was convicted of keeping a noisy or disorderly house and sentenced to three months in jail, according to law enforcement officials.

The house on Mount Pleasant Avenue was full of indications that it was being used as a brothel, authorities said.

The first floor contains a waiting room, replete with lounging chairs, a coffee table, and stacks of magazines. Two poster boards are affixed to the wall with handwritten “five-hour house rules’’ and “two-hour house rules.’’ The five-hour room-rental rules permit one reentry into the house, but the two-hour rules stipulate that upon exiting, “all remaining time ends.’’ Five hours costs $50 rent, and two hours costs $25.

The rooms are small and sparsely decorated with mattresses, night stands, and a few pictures cut from women’s fashion magazines such as Elle and Cosmopolitan.

Ahmed has not been criminally charged in his latest run-in with authorities, but Inspectional Services shut down the house Wednesday, placing plywood over the doors and windows and citing him for numerous code violations, including exposed wiring and unsafe porches. Ahmed has been ordered to appear before the department Thursday to specify how he intends to use the house - as a two-family dwelling, as it was permitted, or a rooming house.

“Clearly, he was not using it as a two-family,’’ said Darryl Smith, Inspectional Services assistant commissioner, standing in front of the house yesterday.

Well-maintained two-story houses dot the street, as do several red-brick apartment buildings. The St. Patrick Elementary School is also on the street, about a half-block away.

Leanora Whitted, 67, whose living room windows face the front of Ahmed’s property, said she plans to attend the public meeting along with other concerned residents. She said questionable activity at the house has been going on for years and she has repeatedly complained in community meetings.

“It really gets terrible over there, she said, sitting in her living room and pointing toward the windows. “All times at night, you have men honking on their horns, going inside, or parking on the street and talking to women who aren’t wearing much of anything. I have a grandson here, and there are other children on this street.’’

Smith said that often when residents seek a remedy to nuisances on their street, they don’t lodge their complaints with the proper authority. “We started hearing about this particular address weeks ago,’’ he said.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino added, “We just got the information recently about it. . . . I think sometimes the neighbors don’t call us, tell us what’s going on in the neighborhood. Once we found out, our team went out there, our response team, and shut it down immediately.’’

Smith is the chairman of the Mayor’s Neighborhood Response Team, which targets problem residences, abandoned vehicles on the streets, and other quality-of-life issues.

The team focuses on Mattapan and Dorchester and the Blue Hill Avenue corridor, but Smith said that as the team sweeps out prostitution through code enforcement, “there is some migration. We shut them down and they move,’’ he said.

Glen Johnson of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com. Follow him on twitter at @globeballou