Cleveland city councilman says, ‘It’s obvious someone didn’t do their job’ after learning a foreclosed property is illegally operating as a ‘known after-hours location’

Cleveland city councilman says, ‘It’s obvious someone didn’t do their job’ after learning a foreclosed property is illegally operating as a ‘known after-hours location’ - clipped version

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s been weeks since 19 News investigators discovered a “known after-hours bar” is illegally operating on property owned by the state.

We’ve since talked to state county and city leaders about why this property still isn’t secured.

Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson said he didn’t know about the “after-hours location”

“I had no idea,” he said. “I didn’t get any calls about it.”

Until ours, he says, in October, after interviewing the family of a young mother shot and killed at the location at 2904 Woodhill Road.

Our questions started to multiply when we found court records that show the foreclosed property was forfeited to the state back in 2018 after failing to sell at two separate sheriff’s auctions.

We discovered that police have been called here five times in the last two years, the place seems not secured then.

We told you last month when the state said Cuyahoga County has jurisdiction over the foreclosed property Ohio owns.

Since then, the county responded to us and referred us to the City of Cleveland to deal with the issues we found there.

The county cited Ohio law that says the county must maintain a list of foreclosed properties, however the county said it’s up to the city where the property is located to enforce code there.

“It’s very obvious that somebody didn’t do their job,” Johnson said.

But who?

According to the police reports we obtained, it’s documented multiple times that the property is a “known after-hours location.”

Johnson said police never came to the city to report the illegal operation.

When we asked if he believed they should have, he said, “Not necessarily. If the police actually knew it was a business going on, they could just shut it down period.”

But they didn’t, and we’ve been back to the location several times since our original story.

The councilman told us that someone had been out to board up and lock the building, however, we didn’t see any changes made since the latest homicide.

In fact, crews working on the street outside told us they’d seen people coming and going from the building.

We knocked on the door.

No one answered, but there was an obvious hole where the door lock goes.

We reached back out to the councilman to tell him what we found here was much different than what he described.

He said in an email, “I was told that... locks have been torn off and it has been broken into again.”

No word whether anyone has been charged or arrested for trespassing there.

Johnson told us the case is now in the hands the of Mayor’s Chief of Regional Development, Ed Rybka.

“[We’ve] put it on our radar to keep it secured,” Johnson said.

However, he said that can be hard to do, especially in the neighborhood right now with pandemic-related restrictions in place.

“{People] can’t go to legitimate places, so they go to after-hours places, just like prohibition,” Johnson said.

We reached out to the City of Cleveland and Mayor Frank Jackson’s office multiple times since our last story.

They have not responded to our questions about whether they have a plan to keep people out of the state’s property.

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