WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced two separate nuisance lawsuits against the owner of a gas station and grocery store in Ward 8, and a settlement with the owners of a gas station in Ward 5 to address security related issues, such as gun violence and drug activity. These efforts aim to improve public safety around these sites.
For all three properties, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that business owners failed to make necessary security improvements, even after violent incidents at their properties, including a homicide and a drug-related hospitalization involving a child. The lawsuits detail how a lack of attention to security by the owners of the Ward 8 properties presents an ongoing risk of harm to innocent patrons, area residents, and community members. OAG is asking the Court to require the owners to rectify the security issues and pay damages to the District for violation of the law. In a separate settlement, the owners of a Ward 5 gas station agreed to implement additional security measures until the gas station is permanently closed as part of a redevelopment plan.
“These legal actions are especially important because all of the properties are in close proximity to schools,” said AG Racine. “Each of us plays a role in helping to keep our community safe – especially our children – and that includes property owners and managers. My office is happy to work with property owners who voluntarily agree to make necessary security changes to improve public safety, but the failure of Power Fuel & Transport Real Estate Holding Company LLC to rectify the dangerous and illegal activity at their properties left us no choice. Due to their inaction, we are bringing these suits to ensure reasonable and critical security improvements are made to make these areas safer.”
OAG has authority to take action against owners and operators to remedy drug and firearm nuisance activity at a property under the District’s Drug-, Firearm-, or Prostitution-Related Nuisance Abatement Act (Nuisance Act). OAG investigates properties referred to it by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and community groups and works collaboratively with property owners whenever possible to solve the problem. However, when property owners fail to implement basic security measures, even after warnings, OAG files lawsuits to help ensure that residents of all income levels, including those who may have limited means to relocate, are safe in their neighborhoods.
4665 S. Capitol St. SW & 4675 S. Capitol St. SW Lawsuits
OAG filed suit against Powel Fuel & Transport Real Estate Holding Company, LLC, which operates an Exxon gas service station at 4665 S. Capitol St. SW and an adjacent Discount Tobacco and Grocery Store at 4675 South Capitol Street SW. The gas station and store are in a densely populated residential area in Ward 8’s Washington Highlands neighborhood. The property is within 1000 feet of the Statesman Academy for Boys and Ingenuity Prep High School – making it a drug free zone.
OAG’s complaint alleges that the owners and managers of the gas station and convenience store have failed to take necessary steps to address criminal activity, including drug sales and serious incidents of gun violence, and that children and neighbors are afraid to walk in the area. According to MPD, the criminal activity at the properties has intensified in 2021, and it has been the site of two separate recent shootings – including a homicide. The properties also have a history of drug activity where MPD has seized several controlled substances from the property. Despite three warnings in the last 6 months from OAG as well as advice from OAG and MPD about necessary security improvements, the owners have failed to take action.
Through this lawsuit, OAG is seeking a court order to compel the owners and managers of the South Capitol Street SW Exxon station and Discount Tobacco and Grocery Store to implement basic security measures to address the dangerous illegal drug and firearm activity taking place at their property. The suit also seeks civil damages for each day since they were first put on notice about the Nuisance Act violations.
A copy of the complaint for 4665 S. Capitol Street SW is available here.
A copy of the complaint for 4675 S. Capitol Street SW is available here.
1 Florida Ave. NE Settlement
OAG reached a settlement with Anacostia Realty LLC, Capital Petroleum Group LLC, Upshir Stop Inc., and One Florida Acquisition LLC, the owners, lessees, and operators of the Tiger Mart Exxon gas station located at 1 Florida Avenue NE.
The gas station is located at the intersection of a high traffic area and is near residential buildings, the Department of Health and Human Services, and restaurants. The property is also less than 1000 feet from Mundo Verde Bilingual Charter School, and children are routinely exposed to drug sales and gun violence when they walk past the property.
Through OAG’s investigation, it discovered the gas station has been the site of a murder, multiple undercover drug buys by MPD, and a host of other crimes. One notable incident included a child who bought and used drugs at the property earlier this year and needed to be taken to the hospital.
The property owners already planned to close the gas station as part of a redevelopment of the property, but as part of a settlement with OAG, they have agreed to provide enhanced security until it closes. Specifically, they will be required to:
- Hire and maintain two security guards that will be on duty seven days a week;
- Install and maintain quality exterior lighting to ensure all areas are well illuminated during evening and nighttime hours;
- Install and maintain interior and exterior security cameras;
- Install and maintain “No Trespassing” and “No Loitering” signs and direct security personnel to enforce the signs; and
- Install and maintain fencing around the entire perimeter of the property.
A copy of the settlement for this gas station is available here.
The owner of the gas station, Capitol Petroleum Group, is also a defendant in a pending case by OAG’s Office of Consumer Protection and was a defendant in a nuisance case filed in 2020.