Lauderdale County DA files suit against Florence motel overrun with criminal activity

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FLORENCE, Ala. — The Lauderdale County District Attorney’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the Florence Inn & Suites motel because of numerous reports of criminal activity for more than four years.

The motel is located on Florence Boulevard just east of Darby Drive. It has fair reviews online, however, Florence City Councilperson Michelle Eubanks said that because of reported criminal activity, her review is much less satisfactory.

“The challenges with this property have been ongoing since the current owners took over the facility in 2016 or 2017,” Eubanks said. “We’ve had numerous calls to the location with a variety of challenges from assault, to domestic abuse, to drugs, to sexual assault.”

Eubanks explained those issues predate the change in ownership when the motel was known as Knights Inn. She said the name change was meant to signify an end to those illegal activities, but they continued.

The Lauderdale County DA’s Office has filed suit against the owner, Florence Hospitality, LLC. The lawsuit claimed that in the past four years, no less than 878 incidents have been reported.

The DA’s office sent the motel’s previous owner, Raval Investment Group, Inc., a drug-related nuisance letter in 2016 stating that the nuisance should be abated, or the property would be condemned. It was reported that the issues were only abated for a brief period.

The office sent another drug-related nuisance letter to the new owners in May of 2021. In that letter, it was made known that the Florence Police Department conducted an investigative report. The letter stated that the report comes after a previous report in 2016 from the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force which detailed 188 incidents from January 2015 to April 2016.

Due to the ongoing issues, District Attorney Chris Connolly said in the letter, “It is abundantly clear that you are allowing illegal activities to continue to run rampant at the property all of which have an adverse impact on the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. As District Attorney, pursuant to my statutory authority, I intend to take whatever legal actions are necessary to remove this blight from our community.”

Connolly said his office is seeking an expedited hearing for a temporary restraining order that would include the motel’s closure during the court process.

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