A Northwest Washington tourist home whose owner pleaded guilty to running a bawdy house is still open and, neighbors say, doing active business because federal marshals lack the funds to board up the facility as ordered last week by a D.C. Superior Court judge.
Marshals say it would take about $1,500 to hire a carpenter to board up the two-story, red-brick mansion with a bay window at 1504 13th St., and they don't have the money. "We are trying to find an inexpensive way to get it done," said J. Jerome Bullock, chief U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia.
Meanwhile, area residents say they are still seeing the same scenes they saw before -- men and women going into the house, staying for short periods of time and then leaving. "We are very distressed about it," said Joan Brooks, who, along with her neighbors, waged a year-long campaign to rid the neighborhood of what many considered "the trick pad."
"It seems to me they [federal marshals] ought to be able to put some kind of sign up, even if it has to be with chicken wire, saying anybody who enters will be put in the clink," said Brooks' husband, Elmer, who serves on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for the Logan Circle area.
Bullock said yesterday that the city's housing department to which the marshals had turned for help, had informed him that it had no legal authority to board up the facility. Bullock said the house will be boarded up Monday, with money from a special $25,000 office services fund if a contractor can be found.
The house, known as Tp Tourist Home, is owned by Thomas Parks, who last week pleaded guilty to keeping "a bawdy and disorderly" house and was fined $250 by Superior Court Judge Gladys Nelson, who also ordered the facility closed for a year.
Parks has denied any knowledge of prostitutes using the house, which he said was a rooming house accommodating 12 to 15 tourists a night.
But neighbors insist Parks knew what was going on at the house then and now. "Mr. Parks is having a hay day over there, said Joan Brooks. "He's not closed down."
Parks said yesterday he still does not know whether his house is being frequented by prostitutes. He said he has six tenants who pay weekly rates to rent rooms in the house. The tenants have been warned that if they sublet their rooms, they will be evicted, Parks said.
"I don't believe it's being used as any trick house," he said. "If it was, the police would have been there to raid the place."
D.C. police did in fact raid the home last May 10 after keeping it under surveillance from March 7 through May 7. At one point, police said they observed 40 to 50 couples entering and then leaving the house in a two-hour period.
Bullock said his office has no funds specifically earmarked for boarding up houses under court order and must dip into a special "services fund" used for annual medical examinations for deputy marshals and other expenses, such as water coolers in the courthouse cellblocks.
The marshals office is ordered by the courts to board up an average of three houses annually, Bullock said.
D.C. City Councilman John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), in whose ward the Parks house is located, said, "We want it closed up. We can't tolerate it in the neighborhood anymore."