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Did senior citizen building house prostitution ring?

Posted at 3:02 PM, May 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-15 15:03:17-04

NEW YORK (CNN) — Residents of a New Jersey senior citizen building have been accused of prostitution and drug-related crimes.

Police say building residents James Parham and Cheryl Chaney were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a nuisance. They say Parham allowed others to enter his apartment to use drugs and engage in acts of prostitution.

Selma McDuffie, who was found with a drug pipe and arrested in Chaney’s apartment, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.

They were arrested in late April, and Parham was scheduled to appear in Englewood Municipal Court on Wednesday.

Half a dozen more people were issued no-trespass orders to the Tibbs Senior Building, run by the Englewood Housing Authority, in Englewood, New Jersey.

The drug users ranged in age from their early 50s to late 70s and were both residents and outsiders, police said. The predominant drug involved was crack cocaine.

The lack of security in the building allowed residents to foster these illegal activities, police say. “With unrestricted access, no checks and balances with respect to who came or went, these residents offered a facility for these activities,” Englewood Police Chief Arthur O’Keefe said.

He said that some residents were afraid to leave their rooms and enjoy common areas, fearing people who were in building hallways. Residents would often find “vagrants sleeping in stairwells and condoms in activity rooms.”

Englewood police had received complaints about the activity over the past year, and in late March, they began working with the building staff, O’Keefe said. Soon after, undercover officers were sent in to identify who was responsible.

“I was happy, glad that they started catching them, because most of us were afraid to say something,” resident Lula Clay told CNN affiliate WABC. “They say ‘see something, say something,’ but all the time you’re afraid to say something, especially seniors, because what can we do?”

O’Keefe says uniformed officers, who will spend most of their patrol time inside the building, have handed out business cards and phone numbers for anonymous complaints.

“It’s worked out quite well,” O’Keefe said. “The officers receive multiple calls, know residents by name, bring them coffee and have brought them back out to the common areas and activity rooms.”

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