The Martinsburg drug-house ordinance..

WVpac.Org must speak out when necessary.

This is an opinionated story, a follow-up to a previous story regarding the City of Martinsburg, WV.

This is about it’s aggressive and possibly illegal use of the Martinsburg drug-house ordinance that forces law-abiding citizen landlords to do local law enforcement’s work for them. This misguided ordinance needs to be challenged in court as unconstitutional, creating an undue burden on landlords.

See the WVpac.Org original article: Hold law-abiding property owners accountable for other peoples illegal actions?

A article in the Herald-Mail Media claims two more local Martinsburg landlords have been cited under the city’s drug-house ordinance. This ordinance shifts the cost and legal obligation of Martinsburg law enforcement onto city landlords by requiring landlords within city limits to do law enforcement’s job for them.

The Martinsburg Police and city council obviously find it more cost-effective to force landlords to do law enforcement’s work for them by making landlords responsible for everything that goes on within that premises. Even if the tenant invites a friend in and that friend has legal issues.. the landlord is responsible. How is this enforceable?

Kicking a drug dealer out of a house does not fix the problem, they simply move and rent the house next door. Or that person stays with their sister who also happens to rent a house from the same landlord. Or at best, it simply passes the buck, kicks the can down the road and places another landlord at risk. This misguided city ordinance create homelessness, places an undue and unenforceable burden on landlords and is ripe for abuse.

What about the city owned projects? How are they enforced? Those places are a fountain of crime.. and the city is the landlord?

Perhaps landlords should force tenants to submit to weekly inspections, drug-screening, after-hour unannounced visits? Yes, those suggestions are misguided and foolish, just about as misguided and foolish as the ordinance that forces landlords to do law enforcement’s job for them.

On another note, a recent article in The Herald-Mail Media abused it’s position as a news outlet to carry out a personal attack on an individual that was completely uncalled for. The news was suppose to be about the enforcement of this misguided ordinance. Instead the article became a weapon of character assassination, dedicating the majority of the story content to defaming one person in particular.

This is how Fake News is created.. by using a local news story as an excuse to publicly attack someone.

Ex-W.Va. sheriff candidate cited under drug-house law

The Herald-Mail Media published this article going out of it’s way in depicting the property owners as criminals.. even calling out one in particular and making the decision to use that persons picture in the article and mentioning him in the story title.

The Herald-Mail Media’s article was intentionally slanted making John Orem the TARGET of the story.. rather than the actual news itself. The article devotes well over half of the article speaking about Mr Orem rather than the actual news story.

Carlos Niederhauser, the ‘other’ landlord, is hardly mentioned.

The Herald-Mail Media continued to mention John Orem throughout the article and in summation mentioned unrelated information regarding his businesses.. see summation quote below (the last four paragraphs of the article).

Wednesday’s announcement fell on the anniversary of Orem’s arrest last year on a misdemeanor heroin-possession charge, which was dismissed in October.

The Inwood, W.Va., businessman’s arrest prompted 23rd Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Christopher Wilkes to suspend Orem’s privilege to write bail bonds in the Eastern Panhandle.

A petition to reinstate Orem’s authority to engage in professional bonding business was filed July 18 by Sher Orem as an authorized agent of Special Services Bureau Inc., doing business as A Regional Bonding Co, records said.

“Petitioner believes that John W. Orem is of good moral character, possesses no criminal record and has no outstanding criminal charges against him,” according to the petition, which was filed by attorney J. Mark Sutton.

The truth is.. the courts ruled in favor of John Orem. The courts confirmed.. that he was illegally arrested by a state police officer, who intentionally broke the law in many ways. John Orem was a victim of police abuse perpetrated by the good-old-boys club who were determined to sabotage his campaign for Sheriff, out of fear. John Orem was never found guilty of anything, but yet the Herald-Mail Media continues it’s personal attacks.. with this poorly hidden attempt to assassinate his character through inference.. in this PRETENSE of a crime.

BTW What part of that quote has anything to do with the actual news story? Over half the article is NOT about the news.

As mentioned in a previous article submitted by a guest writer in which he depicted his experience in dealing with the good-old-boys of West Virginia, My Story: Practicing Law in West Virginia, it is IMPOSSIBLE to locate an attorney to represent citizens against the state, county or local governments and institutions.

Even the ACLU are curbed, sidelined and afraid to represent the citizens due entirely to the influence of the good-old-boys and the power they wield. Who can blame the attorneys.. if they ever want to work in this state and many other states.. they must play the good-old-boys game and never rock the boat.

Fake News! Think about it.. this is how fake news is created. They (those that cater to the powers that be) take a simple story and embellish upon it.. creatively wording using names and pictures until that story takes on another purpose replacing real news and creating fake news.

The house (Orem) in question was never a known drug house, with never a complaint, reported drug activity or citations. The house had been rented for years to the same woman with several children. There have been no known drug or prostitution problems, no citations or arrests, or official notifications.

The article stated,

“The citations were triggered after drug-related criminal violations were documented by city police officers at each rental property.”

and it goes further to mention that,

“Niederhauser previously was cited for his property at 301 E. Burke St. under the ordinance.”.

Nowhere does the article say that John Orem’s property was ever cited? Because it has NEVER been cited…

The police raided that location? For what reason?

Why didn’t they wait until the suspect was at that location? Had this location been under surveillance? Or did the police raid this location simply because it had been targeted for cleanup through the ordinance. The article goes on to say, “Martinsburg police officers executed a search warrant on July 20 at Orem’s North High Street property, and recovered crack cocaine, police said.” yet no one was arrested?

Also, according to the article the reasoning for the breaking down of the door was, “The target of the search warrant also was invited to be at the residence by Orem’s tenant, the release said.” What does that mean?

Supposedly.. crack cocaine was found at the location yet no one was arrested or even questioned. To this day.. Mr Orem has never been notified by the police, of the illegal entry on his premises or the damage done. What was the police officers motives for kicking down the door?

The drug-dealer that the police were ‘supposedly’ seeking was not there. Bad information, poor surveillance? Or did the police raid the wrong residence, destroying the door and framing in the process, then planting evidence to cover their mistake. Or were the police there to plant evidence and possibly make it appear to be a drug house.

The story-line, (a pretense of a crime) is just the implement of character assassination those at the Herald-Mail Media choose to use. The article said, “The two properties join at least seven others that have been targeted for cleanup through the ordinance.”

So what was the justification for that house being targeted? It would seem contacting the landlord is the FIRST thing they should do according to their own ordinance.  According to landlord John Orem, he was never notified at any time for any reason regarding that location.

..No. A complaint by itself alone is not enough to invoke the use of the ordinance. Illegal drug activity or prostitution must be documented either through arrests or the recovery of illegal drugs. Once a property owner is notified that a public nuisance exists, he or she has 30 days to take action to successfully abate the nuisance. No fines will be assessed unless the Martinsburg Municipal Court finds that the owner knowingly failed to implement reasonable and warranted abatement measures. –

Again, think about it.. as is the case with most non-felon warrants the police wait for a traffic stop to nab them. WHY did they attempt to nab a drug suspect in that specific house at that specific time? Why not wait outside and maintain surveillance of the property until the person or vehicle show up. At least make sure the person you are looking for is there? The truth is there was no one there and the police had no reason to raid this house.

Are the cops just doing things for the powers that be, like the article said.. the location had been targeted for cleanup.

Misguided cops, misguided officials and misguided laws.. that is the city of Martinsburg, WV., and until those misguided laws are challenged in court, the powers that be will continue this type of abuse.

The ACLU and The Justice Department SHOULD stand up against this officially sanctioned abuse of power, and protect all citizens from these misguided laws enacted by misguided people. Until then the people need to speak out..

*Editorial Opinion: This article is crafted as a payback against John Orem created specifically with intent to harm or discredit him. Those in power have a grudge against John Orem. Those in power control the news and that leads to this kind of FAKE NEWS!


Another media article less biased in thier opinion, and yet still another slanted article, ..focused more on character assassination than the real news.

This is the property claimed to be a drug house:

A very well maintained property with no previous complaints, violations or issues. So what was the REAL reason to raid this house?

FAQ: Reference:

Anonymous Citizen Watchdogs Share your story.. pass along real news!

Rather than simply reporting the news.. this writer (Matthew Umstead) and publisher (Herald-Mail Media) become the news. They took it upon themselves to creatively slant this article into character assassination, exactly the kind of fake news people are talking about.

Was that real news or character assassination..?

Article was written by Matthew Umstead and you can let him know what you think of a news reporter that maliciously targets an individual for personal reason. Email him at [email protected] or Twitter @matthewumstead.