The City Attorney’s Office sued a San Pedro couple Monday, alleging their duplex is being used for drug sales by customers who arrive day and night and sometimes pass out in their vehicles outside.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed against 55-year-old Edward Riner and his 44-year-old wife, Charlene, asks that their property be declared a nuisance and that all alleged drug-related activity be ceased at the property in the 500 block of West 40th Street.
“As soon as they moved in, the once-quiet property quickly developed a reputation in the community as a dangerous trap house,” according to the suit, which notes that a trap house is slang for a place where drugs are bought, sold and stored.
A representative for the Riners could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Riners acquired the duplex in September 2018 and have used it to store and sell heroin, according to the suit, which also alleges that the couple obtained title to the property by defrauding the 64-year-old prior owner, whose husband had recently died.
The widow maintains she received no money from the Riners and never signed transfer documents for the duplex, which she and her husband had owned since at least 1993, according to the suit.
Both Riners have multiple convictions for narcotics-related offenses, the complaint alleges.
“The criminal activity occurring at the property is terrorizing the community, and poses a serious threat to public safety,” the suit alleges. “The property is a destination for a daily parade of pedestrians and vehicles, especially at night.”
Visitors double-park their cars, block traffic and occasionally pass out in their vehicles while parked out front, according to the complaint. If no one there is awake to “greet” visitors, they pound on doors and even break windows, screaming to be let in, and loud fights and domestic disturbances frequently occur between the residents and visitors and people using heroin discard needles on the sidewalk or in neighbors’ yards, the suit alleges.
One of the garages is being used as a residence and police have recovered multiple stolen vehicles, the suit alleges.