When the Redding Police Neighborhood Police Unit was created in January 2016, one of the priorities the community voiced to city government was to clean up nuisance hotels operating within the city. Over the last year, the NPU met with numerous hotel owners and corporate managers of several Redding area hotels. The NPU has had great success working in partnership with numerous businesses in efforts to change the environment among hotels and reduce their calls for service.
NPU saw that the Ponderosa Inn was not improving, as it averaged nearly 700 police calls for service within a two-year period. NPU took into consideration what would be the most appropriate course of action in resolving on-going issues at the troubled hotel.
Recently, the Hilltop lodge closed after the business was sued by its neighbors and found in violation of numerous building code violations. After the business closed the building was demolished. The City of Redding acted on the Americana when conditions did not improve; the business went into receivership and ultimately closed its doors. Redding Police worked with the Shasta County District Attorney’s Civil Unit as a last resort to clean up the Redding Inn after years of criminal and code enforcement efforts failed. It too, has since closed its doors and has recently been sold.
Instead of recommending immediate action against the Ponderosa Inn, the NPU and Shasta County D.A. Civil Unit met with the owner of the Ponderosa Inn in April of 2016. This strategy proved very successful with other area hotels and we sought to duplicate the process. The team met with the owners and presented crime statistics, the alarming frequency of police activity and detailed how the business had turned to an area of blight and nuisance within the downtown area. NPU offered numerous recommendations which have had success at other properties. At the conclusion, the owner was given notice as to what action would be taken if problems continued.
During the remainder of 2016, criminal activity continued and recommendations were not followed. NPU officers as well as patrol officers initiated a variety of criminal investigations to include: countless drug dealers identified and arrested, drug overdoses with one leading to death, assaults, battery’s, domestic violence, vandalisms, prostitution, thefts, recovered stolen property and the apprehension of many wanted subjects. Several witnesses and past employees have come forward indicating the owner, Gursahib SEKHON, was at the center of many of these criminal acts.
NPU has investigated numerous complaints that SEKHON and hotel staff had frequently entered rooms to steal money, drugs and property. NPU was told SEKHON was aware of several of the drug dealers and allowed them to continue their criminal enterprise as a way to profit his business. Many have said SEKHON was in the rooms where hard street drugs were present and SEKHON ignored the activity. Other witnesses allege SEKHON traded rooms for sexual acts and marijuana. Officers determined SEKHON is at the center of all decisions being made at the hotel and staff members are not encouraged or empowered to take action. The criminal population of Redding gravitated to the Ponderosa Inn as this became a common area where their activity was accepted. NPU determined this was common practice for the hotel and felt direct action was necessary as SEKHON’s behavior and business practices were not improving therefore causing a negative effect on the downtown area.
NPU worked with the Shasta County D.A. Civil Unit and again met with SEKHON. During this meeting, the NPU and a Deputy D.A. spoke at length on what action was to be taken and the rules that SEKHON were expected to follow. During January 2017, the D.A. Civil Unit was able to reach a civil agreement with SEKHON which included fines and a set of rules imposed by a court order which shall be followed. The rules imposed on the Ponderosa Inn are common practice for other successful area hotels. SEKHON was given direction to follow procedures utilized by these motels to bring his business inline. These rules took effect on February 1st, 2017. From February 2017 to mid-March, the problems continued.
In March 2017 an attempted homicide occurred, involving occupants of the motel and staff members. This violent act prompted the NPU to open an investigation to determine if the court order was being followed. During this investigation, NPU officers learned the attempted homicide would likely not have occurred had SEKHON and his staff followed the rules imposed in the court order. Additionally, NPU officers identified 25 individual violations between February 1st and March 14th. Many of these violations included hotel staff allowing blatant criminal activity to continue. It did not appear SEKHON was going to follow the rules nor did it appear he took the civil judgement seriously.
With no other option, NPU officers began submitting their reports to the Shasta County District Attorney and an arrest warrant was issued for multiple violations of the court order. On 4/6/17 at around 7:30 PM, officers observed a white Mercedes driving recklessly during a down pour on Shasta View Drive. The officer was unable to catch up to the Mercedes due to inclement weather and radioed to downtown officers of the approaching vehicle as it was last seen traveling west on Highway 44. NPU officers located the vehicle downtown and conducted an enforcement stop. The driver was identified as SEKHON. SEKHON was arrested and booked into the Shasta County Jail for his arrest warrant.