Mr. Kelly’s Story Crumbles

Paul Bass PhotoAs a third heated confrontation commenced on the sidewalk, the cops had to figure out who was telling the truth—and where an evicted couple would spend the night.

That was the scene Thursday evening in the Hill. A housing dispute that began in the aftermath of a mid-June shooting came to a boil.

The shooting, which left the victim in critical condition, took place inside a one-and-a-half-story 1,030-square-foot clapboard house at 154 Frank St. (pictured).  Inspectors from city government’s anti-blight agency, the Livable City Initiative (LCI), arrived at the house the next day. They found evidence that too many people lived there, in violation of rules that limit rooming houses to four unrelated adults. In addition to four tenants on the first and second floors, it appeared two people were staying in the basement. LCI inspector Tomas Reyes issued a report ordering the landlord, Kelly Moye, to fix multiple violations, from clearing trash from the yard and repairing broken toilets and flooring to installing an overflow discharge pipe.  And Reyes gave Moye six hours to “cease and desist” from using both the basement and a backyard garage as “living space.”

That was June 18.

Fast forward to the afternoon Thursday, July 31.

Jeanette Arnold (pictured) came home to 154 Frank to find her belongings stuffed in trash bags in the back yard. Well, most of her belongings.

She found the garage door padlocked. She found a door inside the house leading to the basement padlocked. She and her partner had been living in the garage for the past six or seven months, she said, paying Moye rent. She said she paid Moye, who lives around the corner and owns six properties in the immediate neighborhood, $250 a month out of the $900 or so she receives in disability payments and food stamps. She said Moye deducted another $250 or so out of money he owed her partner, Glenford Jackson, for doing painting and other work on his properties. Moye refused to give them receipts, she said.

A few days ago, she said, Moye had ordered the couple out of the garage and into the basement apartment. She didn’t like that apartment. “It smelled mildewy,” she said. “There’s a lot of electrical wires hanging.” Roaches and centipedes crawled all over her, she said.

And the first-floor bathroom (pictured) they shared with the other tenants was nasty.

Then, on Thursday morning, the electricity was cut off.

She explained the situation to activists at the nearby Amistad Catholic Worker House on Rosette Street, where she goes to eat breakfast. With their help she summoned an LCI inspector to the house on Thursday. According to Arnold and Gregory Williams of the Amistad Catholic Worker House, an LCI inspector arrived at the house, checked it out, saw that the problems remained, and ordered Moye to find Arnold and her husband another place to stay by 6 p.m.

As 6 p.m. approached, Moye was nowhere to be found. The activists phoned the police. As they waited, Arnold and the activists walked to Moye’s home on Truman Street. Arnold fumed that she was certain her TV and DVD player were missing from the trash left in the bags. “We had good DVDs!” she said, including Iron Man, Spiderman, and a two-disc set about the Kennedy assassination.

Moye wasn’t home. Other members of his family were. A shouting match ensued. (Click on the video to watch.)

“Get the hell away from the door!” one man shouted. Moye’s wife asked the group to leave.

After some back and forth, the group complied and returned to 154 Frank St. Moye soon pulled up in a Dakota 4x4.

Moye told a different story. He said Arnold never lived there. Or wasn’t supposed to. He said a “family” lives inside the house. He eventually said that Glenford Jackson did occasionally stay in the house. But that he never paid any rent. He claimed he told him not to allow Arnold in the house, but that he would “sneak” her in after dark.

He called Jackson on a cell phone. He offered the phone to a reporter, to have Jackson verify the story. Jackson was told that Moye said he and his partner hadn’t been living at the house or garage for six months and hadn’t paid him any money.

“That’s a lie,” Jackson said. He said he was en route to the house.

A shouting match ensued between Arnold and Moye, with Williams getting a few licks in, too. (Click on the video to watch highlights.)

“Don’t tell me what I did! I won’t hear it” Moye demanded. (He refused to speak much with Williams, dismissing him as “retarded.”)

“You want to keep it real? I’m gonna keep it real as it get!” Arnold yelled at Moye. “Don’t lie to me, Mr. Kelly! You are a liar, OK? You wouldn’t even put your own daughter in a fucking place like that!”

“I didn’t put you there! Who put you there?”

Williams suggested that Moye was responsible, as the paid landlord, for Arnold staying in the house.

“Show me a receipt!” Moye responded.

At first Moye told a reporter he had no idea who had padlocked the garage and inside doors, or why. Then he said LCI had told him he had to close the basement, so he ordered “Joe,” a man who works for him, to change the locks.

It turned out Joe—Joe Bush (pictured), who does work for Moye and other landlords—was up the block, watching from a distance. He seconded Moye’s version, calling the couple problem tenants who were allegedly trying to live in the house for free. Bush said he did padlock the doors. He didn’t cop to taking out the couple’s belongings.

He said he lives in 154 Frank. He said the tenants are unrelated, not a family.

Police Officers Keron Bryce and Osvaldo Garcia arrived at the scene. More officers followed.

So did Glenford Jackson, who by this time was fully on his partner’s side, not his landlord/employer’s. Moye vowed repeatedly to anyone who would listen that he plans to evict all the tenants and bring in people “on Section 8,” the federally subsidized rent program.

By this time Moye had gone home and retrieved the LCI report that Reyes had given him, listing all the violations at the house and ordering him to fix them. All the deadlines had passed. Asked by a reporter about some of the individual violations, Moye said he had known nothing about them.

Moye greeted the officers by showing him a badge—from when he briefly served as a city cop in the early 1980s. Before that, he was a housing authority cop. Before that he tried for years to become a cop, to no avail; instead he became a police informant, spying on the Black Panther Party. He ended up playing a key role in New Haven’s most celebrated murder case, the 1969 torture-killing of party member Alex Rackley. Moye kept his role as informant secret (he had lent the Panthers his car to carry out the killing) for 35 years. (Click here to read a full story about that.)

Soon the neighborhood’s top cop, District Manager Lt. Nick Marcusio (at left center in photo), joined the scene at 154 Frank. He remembered well the recent shooting there and the subsequent LCI inspection.

“We shut you down, now you had them in the basement again!” he told Moye.

Their back-and-forth grew heated. (Click on the video at the top of the story to watch highlights.)

“LCI came out here a month and a half ago. Did they not tell you you you can’t have people in the basement?” Marcusio asked.

“Definitely,” Moye responded. ” They ‘re not supposed to be here.”

“So why are they down here again?”

“Do they have a receipt?”

“Are you even checking your property?”

“Hear me out! I do. Hear me out”

“So why were they in your house?”

“I’ve been in the hospital four weeks. Four weeks…”

“They’re the same people who got kicked out of your garage.”

While Moye’s story had holes in it, Arnold and Jackson were missing a crucial piece of leverage—any documentation that they had a right to live in the house, or that they had paid rent.

That became clear when LCI inspector Jacqueline Outlaw arrived on the scene. She spoke to all parties. She convinced Moye to have the couple’s belongings returned indoors and to find the couple another place to sleep that night. While Arnold and Jackson lacked leverage, LCI had leverage: the agency is expected to return to inspect the property, and Moye needs to be on their good side.

Everyone left satisfied with the compromise, Marcusio said later.

Reached at home later Thursday night, Moye said the compromise had broken down. He said he offered the couple a room in a house on Truman Street. But he insisted they sign a paper saying they’d leave by 9 a.m., and they refused, he said. The couple could not be reached for comment about where they ended up for the night.


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posted by: N'Zinga Shani on August 1, 2014  1:09pm

Moye is demanding the police gets proof from these people that they are supposed to be there; he knows fully well that he has not given them any receipt.  This is how exploiters take advantage of the financially distressed. So often the very people decency would dictate to lend a hand to the less fortunate are the very ones who reach out to pull those people down and put their feet on top of their heads.

The role played by the FBI informant in the demise of the Panthers in New Haven, Warren Kimbro’s prison time, and certainly the death of Mr. Rackley have all been documented. “Murder In The Model City” tells the story well. Sadly, too many people do not know the history associated with many of those who walk our streets today. A snake remains a snake regardless of how many times it sheds its skin. Where is the justice and whatever happened to the concept of “the beloved community” and not keeping ones foot on the heads of those trying to get out from under?
James Farmer, Malcolm X, Warren Kimbro, Whitney Young, Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, and many other must be weeping in their graves. The most significant chains are those in our heads. Kimbro atoned for his part in taking Rackley’s life and he created Project MORE.  The good that men do lives after them. We hope the bad is truly interred with their bones.

posted by: TrumanStreetResident on August 1, 2014  2:19pm

OK - let’s REALLY keep it real. A landlord MUST be held accountable to provide legal and safe housing for his tenants, But tenants must be held accountable for ‘something’. How can you call the authorities for being evicted from illegal housing ...a garage? a basement? no rent receipts? Really??? Now I agree, Mr. Moye does own properties that are in very bad shape. But he also has tenants who choose to live there because his rents are CHEAP and then they do absolutely nothing to maintain or improve the condition of their residences. You get what you pay for. You pay nothing - you get nothing. I live in the neighborhood of these properties so I know. His Truman and Franks Street properties are mostly occupied by habitually unemployed abusers of alcohol and drugs who spend their money on alcohol and drugs, then go to Amistad House on Rosette Street to eat. There are children that live there (one of whom was the victim of a BB gunshot to the face last year) who are exposed to the activity of those who sit on the porch or in the house all day drinking, or those who are buying, selling and using drugs at his Truman Street properties. No one in those properties picks up any of the trash that is strewn around and the adults appear to be quite content with their environment because they do nothing to change it ... they won’t even pick up the trash THEY drop outside their residence ...  empty glassine drug bags, cigarette buts, liquor bottles. Yes Mr. Moye has responsibilities to his tenants (his legal tenants .. the illegal ones who live in garages and basements should NOT be there!), but the tenants have responsibilities to their community. I would suggest to Mr. Moye that he have ALL his tenants move out, gut and rehab all his properties and rent them to ‘responsible’ tenants who will take care of them, or procure the services of a reliable property manager to handle his properties for him. NHI - why not go there, sit and watch and get the REAL story!

posted by: random on August 1, 2014  3:10pm

I’m wondering how effective is LCI if the landlord was cited and ordered to “cease and desist” having families living in the house and months later families continue to live there in poor conditions? According to the “Truman St resident” he has several properties on Truman St where it appears he is taking advantage of the disadvantaged and with no regard for LCI orders.

posted by: TrumanStreetResident on August 1, 2014  4:23pm

I would appreciate not being misquoted. Nowhere in my comments did I indicate that Mr. Moye was taking advantage of the disadvantaged. From my statements you CAN infer that Mr. Moye rents substandard housing to individuals who have ‘sub’ standards. They come to his properties because he charges low rents. To his discredit, Mr. Moyer rents to many individuals who have been evicted from their previous residents for failure to pay rent; to individuals who just got out of jail or programs and are down on their luck; to individuals who have no respect for property; to those who do not chose to improve their ‘lot’; to those who contribute nothing visible to the improvement of their neighborhood or community; to individuals who allow their children to run the streets all hours of the day and night with God knows who doing God knows what while they sit inside drinking, smoking and who knows what else; to individuals who collect gov’t checks and either do not work or make no effort to find work because of their addictions. 154 Frank Street is rented to such people. His properties are rented to people who YOU don’t want in YOUR neighborhood or next door to YOUR home.  And whey leave his properties for failure to pay the low rents or destroying the property as most of them inevitably do, they move somewhere else where they most likely do the same. It is almost impossible to evict someone without it costing substantial amounts of money (court cost)and the process is in the favor of the tenant ... right or wrong. But when will we begin to put some of the responsibility for quality of life on the individuals. Not everyone is a VICTIM. Some make their own flea and bed-bug infested beds and must lay in them until they CHOOSE to do better. But in the words of Mr. Williams and the Amistad Catholic Workers ...“where then shall they go”? A tent perhaps?