Police in Montgomery County say a man and his 72-year-old mother were violently evicted from the basement room they rented in Olney earlier this month. Now, charges have been filed against their landlord and a man police say was hired to force the tenants out.
Martin Winepol, 71, was running a boarding house in the single-family home in which he and his wife lived, according to a statement from the Montgomery County Police Department. The house, in the 17700 block of Cashell Road, contained four illegal apartments, five kitchens and 15 occupants, according to police.
Officers responded shortly before 9 p.m. Aug. 6 to reports of a woman screaming for help and banging on the window of a neighbor’s house and found the 72-year-old tenant.
The woman said she’d walked into her room at about 8:30 p.m. and saw four unknown males and one unknown female, who prevented her from closing her bedroom door and yelled at her to take her things and leave, according to the police statement.
The man grabbed the woman and her son, told them that the landlord had said they need to leave, and pushed them out of the apartment. One attacker broke the female victim’s phone as she tried to call 911; the attackers then took the son’s phone and left the premises, according to police.
Police identified one of the attackers as Garfield Johnson, 50, of Parkville. They said Winepol paid Johnson $1,000 to scare the man and his mother out of the house because they were behind on their rent. Winepol was acquainted with Johnson because he’d previously used Johnson’s tree-removal service, according to police.
Winepol turned himself in to police Aug. 12, according to the statement.
Johnson was arrested at his home Aug. 13 and charged with first-degree burglary, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and two counts each of second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, according to police.
Winepol was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit robbery, and conspiracy to commit second-degree assault, police said.
Attorney information was not listed for either man in online court records.
Other tenants who were home during the incident told police that Winepol had said earlier that day that he was going to pay people to remove the man and his mother and that there would be screaming and yelling, according to police.
The county’s Department of Housing and Community affairs determined during the investigation that Winepol was running a boarding house and condemned the property, ordering occupants to vacate until it was converted back to a single-family home, police said.
Police were searching for three unidentified males and one unidentified female in connection with the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Sharif Hidayat at 240-773-5500. Callers may remain anonymous.