Precautions taken before deputies carry out Modesto eviction

jjardine@modbee.com and pguerra@modbee.comFebruary 14, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textJeff Jardine
    Title: Local columnist
    Coverage areas: People, issues, the community
    Bio: Jeff Jardine joined The Bee's staff in 1988 after a decade at the Stockton Record. He covered sports before moving into news in 1996 and became the Local Columnist in 2003. He graduated from University of the Pacific in 1979, majoring in communications and history.
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— In the wake of a report critical of eviction procedures employed by the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, deputies took a different approach Thursday before entering a home in northwest Modesto.

Three deputies, locksmith Robert Owsley and the new property owners first met in a shopping center parking lot a few blocks from a home on Barbera Way, where they waited to go to the house and complete the eviction until it was confirmed that the home's prior owner, Mark Davis, had arrived at the Stanislaus County Courthouse to attend a hearing on an unrelated matter.

Even knowing Davis, a Modesto bail bond agent, wasn't inside, deputies Tom Letras and Andrew Winter nonetheless prepared to protect themselves and Owsley in the event someone else was inside the home. The deputies waited, guns pointed at the door, while Owsley drilled out the old lock to gain entry.

Evictions have come into sharp focus since the April 2012 deaths of a sheriff's deputy and a locksmith serving a notice at a Chrysler Drive fourplex. Jim Ferrario, who had lost the home to foreclosure, shot deputy Robert Paris and locksmith Glendon Engert.

An independent report released earlier this month cites a "complacency problem" among some at the Sheriff's Department as a factor in a failure to do a background check that could have uncovered Ferrario's criminal record and history of firearms ownership. The report says Paris exhibited a too-casual attitude toward eviction work.

Davis' former home was vacant, much more so than the home's new owners, Matt Enriquez and Gregory Reed of Industrial Holdings, had hoped. They entered to find the house had been stripped of appliances, the intercom system, and many of the fixtures and cabinets.

Davis, who did not return calls for comment Thursday, lost the home to foreclosure in June. Reed and Enriquez bought it in October. They went to court three times in January in an attempt to get Davis to leave, and Reed said Davis agreed to be out by noon Feb. 11 and pay $4,905 in back rent.

"Once we figured out he was going to leave, we started going to the next process," he said.

Paul Tunison, owner of Patriot Eviction Service, said eviction costs and fees will total nearly $8,000.

"He dragged it out four to six weeks," Tunison said. "He did everything he could to make it go on as long as possible and to cost Industrial Holdings as much as possible."

But that is nothing compared with what it will take to make the home livable again. Reed and Enriquez surveyed the damage, and the early estimate is that it will cost about $80,000, just based upon what they saw during the initial walk-through Thursday. The figure didn't include the costs of installing a new alarm system and renting temporary chain link fencing to keep people out until repairs are made. It will take about two to three months before it is ready for occupancy again, Reed said.

Neighbors, none of whom were willing to be quoted, were happy to see the eviction carried out. "It's been a long time in coming," one said. "He's been moving stuff out of there for months — appliances as recently as last week."

Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra contributed to this report.

Bee columnist Jeff Jardine can be reached at jjardine@modbee.com or (209) 578-2383.

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