HUNTINGTON — The city of Huntington has filed a civil complaint against a Huntington recovery house it alleges is currently being illegally operated by a convicted criminal who is serving a home confinement sentence.
The lawsuit alleges criminals are watching criminals at the halfway house, making it a danger to the city.
The lawsuit was filed by city attorney Scott Damron last week against Recovery House on 10th, its operator Christina Lynn Jack Perkins and homeowner Larry Wilson.
The halfway house, located at 1050 10th Ave., is currently housing parolees and probationers who have been released by the West Virginia Division of Corrections. However, Perkins is under the jurisdiction and supervision of the Cabell County Day Report Center after being convicted of a crime and sentenced to home confinement, the complaint alleges.
The city is asking the court to close the house and evict its residents.
"The concentration of convicted criminals living together with no supervision other than that of another criminal poses a serious and immediate threat to the safety and well-being of persons living in the immediate neighborhood," the complaint says.
Damron said Perkins was served on Friday and has since called the city and said the house is now fully empty, but he has no proof to confirm that.
"We have no factual evidence they have stopped operating other than that they told us," he said. "It's our intention to stop it for good right now."
According to the complaint, Perkins moved into the house in January as a tenant. By April 1 she was representing the home as a fully licensed commercial halfway house for recently released prisoners and deceptively told authorities she was not under any form of home confinement, the complaint said.
As a result, as many as nine prisoners released from the Stevens and Salem correctional centers have become residents of the halfway house.
The business has no Huntington business license, certificate of occupancy, assets and no liability insurance coverage, the city alleges.
A hearing will be held in Cabell Circuit Judge Christopher Chiles' courtroom Friday at 9 a.m. on the city's request to shut it down. Damron said moving forward with the case in the court system is important to make sure Perkins lives up to her promises of ceasing the operation.
The people who lived in the house have been reassigned to other facilities and are not on the streets of Huntington, Damron added.
The complaint stated because of zoning ordinances where the house is located, a special permit must be obtained in order for it to be in operation. Before that is granted, the zoning board must consider public health, safety, morals and general welfare issues for the city.
None of the defendants have made any of those steps as of the suit's filing, Damron wrote.
A halfway house is defined as a residence for helping former prisoners adjust to life in general society after being released from institutionalization. A sober living house, or recovery house, is a place that provides a sober living environment to help those recovering from substance abuse.
While the name of the business indicates it to be an addiction rehabilitation recovery home, Damron said it is nothing more than a halfway house.
"We are drawing a distinction between a sober living house and halfway house, which is a facility whose sole purpose is to provide quarters for people on probation or parole," he said. "It has nothing to do with drug addiction."
"The reason we pursued them is because it was an unlicensed halfway house, not a sober living house."
Damron said the city is not aware of any other true halfway houses within city limits.
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