"Plumber John" Jablonski is the lone tenant left in the "old motel" in downtown Cary. And he's not leaving without a fight. Two weeks ago, The Independent wrote about motel residents being chased out of their homes by the motel's owners, Sheila Ogle, who runs a local advertising agency and was a candidate for the Town Council, and her husband, Carroll. The tactics the Ogles used to evict their tenants, including shutting off the utilities, succeeded in getting everyone to leave except "Plumber John." Now, Jablonski has hired a lawyer and is fighting back.
Jablonski says that on Tuesday, July 30, he discovered that some of his belongings had been thrown in a Dumpster outside the old motel, formerly known as the Chatham Station Efficiencies and Rooms, at 303 W. Chatham St. Removing a person's belongings can be considered theft under the law if the sheriff's office has not granted a landlord full possession of a residency.
The next day, for at least the third time, the power was cut off. The other two times, there were no legal eviction proceedings under way, and this time eviction papers had been filed, but Jablonski hadn't been notified. Cary police also were called to the scene, and Jablonski says they threatened to arrest him for trespassing if they caught him on the property again. But Jablonski says that the Wake County Sheriff's Office intervened and ordered the police to leave him alone, since Jablonksi's lawyer had gotten a temporary restraining order against the Ogles ordering them to turn the utilities back on by Aug 5.
Jablonski finally received a legal eviction notice on Aug. 1, along with a summons to appear in court over unpaid rent. Jablonski says he had an agreement with the previous owner that, because he was doing maintenance work, he did not have to pay rent. After the Ogles bought the motel in February, the manager phoned Jablonski asking him to rework his agreement, but Jablonski says he declined. Former tenant Joseph Spinks also is being summoned to court for not paying his rent, though his mother has said she came and paid it for him every week. The court date for both cases was set for Friday, Aug. 9.
Carroll Ogle declined to comment, saying that he is "not at liberty to say anything."
Jablonski's lawyer also declined to comment.
And as of Aug. 5, Jablonski was still sleeping on a friend's couch and in other motels, waiting for the utilities to be turned back on.