From yesterday’s Journal Sentinel on a major heroin and cocaine arrest:
A separate complaint charges six Milwaukee residents with a variety of offenses related to the operation, which was based out of a rented house at 1800 S. Layton Blvd. A woman who lived there told investigators the main supplier paid the rent, car costs and other bills for her in exchange for using the location as a stash house for drugs and money.
”Fronting” is when, one person employees another person with a stellar rental history to apply for and rent a unit that the applicant has no intention of living at. Most often it is used by bad guys to acquire a place to do bad things, like sell dope. We’ve also seen parents and friends front for people who otherwise could not get into our rentals due to eviction or criminal histories.
Screening becomes pretty much useless, unless fronting can be stopped. Law enforcement should look at these cases as felony fraud when used to put someone in a unit that the landlord would not otherwise rent to. When used to facilitate a criminal act the fronter should be charged with either aiding and abetting the crime or the crime itself – If you drive the get away car while your buddy robs a liquor store and he kills someone, you will be charged with murder. This should be the same.
In 1996 the Association had met with then D A McCann. He promised to pursue fronting cases if documented and presented to him. Some cases were sent his way, but nothing ever happened.
When John Chisholm first became District Attorney he met a couple of times with the Southside Landlord Compact, a group comprised of small neighborhood landlords as well as many members of the AASEW. We told him a large problem we were having was “fronting.”
We had a major drug raid at one of our properties a few of years ago. We went back over the app to see what we had missed. Everything looked correct. We rechecked the tenant for criminal charges – there were none. We had done an in home pre rental visit. Notes had shown a woman, two kids in a well kept unit.
I sent one of my manager to the four family she was living at when she applied to her to ask the neighbors if there was any indication of bad activity. Low and behold the person we rented to was still living at the house where she lived when we accepted her application. My manager asked her and she admitted that she was paid $500 a month to rent the house where the drug crime occurred and drop off the rent each month. We gave all of this information to the Police and DA. She was never arrested.
At least in the case reported yesterday the fronter was arrest. Let’s hope this is part of a growing trend.