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City condemns Roxbury house used as brothel

City of Boston Code Enforcement inspectors boarded up the doors and windows of a two-story building at 100 Mount Pleasant Ave. in Roxbury, for a slew of code violations on Aug. 31. City of Boston Code Enforcement inspectors boarded up the doors and windows of a two-story building at 100 Mount Pleasant Ave. in Roxbury, for a slew of code violations on Aug. 31. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / September 9, 2011

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A light-brown two-story stucco building on Mount Pleasant Avenue in Roxbury was condemned yesterday by city inspectors for a host of electrical, fire, and structural hazards, but in shutting the property down, authorities have also closed a reputed brothel that neighbors say has plagued the area for years.

“People have gone to their graves complaining about this particular house,’’ said Cathy Griswald, one of those neighbors, speaking during a public hearing yesterday morning at the Inspectional Services Department headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue. “It should be shut down for good.’’

The house at 100 Mount Pleasant Ave. was full of indications that it was being used as a brothel, authorities said. There are signs inside listing hourly usage, along with a price scale, and each of the 12 rooms contain beds. There is a waiting area with magazines. And most residents who live within view of the house say they often see half-naked women running out of the house chasing men and demanding full payment.

On Aug. 17, two weeks before it was closed, Boston Police Captain John Davin, along with Darryl Smith, assistant commissioner of inspectional services, visited the residence as part of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Neighborhood Response Team. The team makes biweekly visits to neighborhoods in Roxbury and Mattapan to address quality-of-life issues and check on addresses that generate numerous complaints.

Smith said yesterday the response team and ISD is also evaluating several other properties in Roxbury, one that appears to be abandoned but used for prostitution and drug dealing.

Davin, the commanding officer of District B-2 in Roxbury, said yesterday during the mid-August visit, homeowner Fard Ahmed, 74, told him that prostitutes visit the house, and that he catered to a specific “supply and demand.’’

“He stated to me that he rents rooms to prostitutes so that they could stay there with their boyfriends,’’ Davin testified during the hearing.

When authorities placed plywood over the first-floor doors and windows on Aug. 31, they also notified Ahmed at the hearing, but he was a no-show yesterday.

While the department can enforce code violations and, as a result, close a house where illegal activity has occurred, it does not have the authority to condemn a house for prostitution.

But Boston police are considering whether to charge Ahmed with a crime.

Ahmed 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 will probably be closed for months, according to inspectors, because it requires extensive work to pass code.

And even if that work is done, Ahmed will have to resubmit a purpose of use for the property, which was last listed as a two-family residence, Smith said. He has the option of applying to make it a rooming house.

Griswold was one of seven longtime residents who attended yesterday’s meeting, and while those homeowners expressed satisfaction that the house will be closed for at least several months, they are wary that it will reopen next year and that illegal activity will resurface.

“This is behavior that has gone of for at least 12 years that I’m aware of,’’ said resident Patricia Courtney, during the meeting. “This issue has been there since 2000, and it just keeps getting worse and worse.’’

Courtney said that after the city pursued Ahmed in 2004 and 2009, residents enjoyed only a few days of peacefulness before “things went back to the way they were. I’m not sure how to alleviate that problem in the future,’’ Courtney said.

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou.