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Aldermen call out landlord they say is allowing drug activity; ‘Being an accomplice to the problem’

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee landlord may have to forfeit several rental properties where the city says she is allowing drug activity. The landlord however, says she is being unfairly targeted.

"We could go to court and take your property, take your money and we'll plow that money into anti-crime fighting efforts," said Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski.

That tough talk from the alderman is aimed at bad landlords.

Tony Zielinski

"In my opinion, being an accomplice to the problem," Zielinski said.

On Thursday, March 15, three aldermen stood in front of a property calling out the landlord by name, Leticia Gomez. City officials say another nuisance property owned by Gomez sits across the street. On March 7, the city filed suit against Gomez.

"Relating to drug activity, on going drug activity at 2478 and 2479 S. 5th Place," said Alderman Bob Donovan.

According to an assistant city attorney, several of Gomez's properties have a history of complaints.

Heather Hough

"Complaints that were coming in from citizens about drug and illegal activity," said Heather Hough, assistant city attorney. "At least since 2012."

But then the landlord in question showed up -- and said it's not so cut and dry.

"I have knowledge of the lawsuit, but I was not informed about the press conference," said Leticia Gomez. "It has been happening for a couple years. But it's not just our property. Milwaukee is full of drug dealers. You have to understand they are going to find a way."

Leticia Gomez

Gomez said it is not easy removing bad or dangerous tenants without fear of retaliation. As the conversation continued, Gomez became visibly upset.

"I have these two properties in this area. Who's going to come and protect me? Am I supposed to wait three hours at the corner until somebody shows up? How am I supposed to fix these properties when I am afraid to be here," Gomez said.