Tenants late on rent physically forced out of illegal apartment

WASHINGTON – A landlord hired a man to threaten and force his tenants to move out of an illegal boarding house that’s now condemned in Olney.

Both the landlord and the hired hand have been arrested and face multiple felony charges, Montgomery County police say.

Police say Martin Winepol, 71 of the 17700 block of Cashell Road, was illegally renting several apartments out of his single-family home. When one of the tenants, a 72-year-old woman and her 50-year-old son, were late on their rent, Winepol paid Garfield Johnson $1,000 to kick them out.

The woman told police she discovered four men, including Johnson, and a woman standing in her home the night of Aug. 6. She and her son were told to take their things and get out. They were pushed out of the home and their phones were broken or taken to prevent them from calling 911, police say.

The woman began screaming for help and banged on the window of a neighboring home. That’s when neighbors called police.

Other tenants told police that Winepol, who lives in the home with his wife, had warned them that they would hear people screaming and that he was going to pay someone to force the tenants out.

Winepol turned himself in on Aug. 12. He was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit second-degree assault.

Johnson, 50 of Parkville, Maryland, was arrested the next day. He was charged with burglary, robbery, two counts of second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit burglary and robbery.

Code inspectors determined that Winepol had four, illegal “accessory” apartments and five separate kitchens in what is supposed to be a single-family home. The county Department of Housing and Community Affairs condemned the entire property and everyone living there was ordered to leave until the home could be converted back to a single-family residence, police say.

The home was occupied by 15 people at the time, according to police.

According to state property assessment records, the home includes about 3,900 square feet of space plus a 1,560-square-foot basement. It has four full baths and is assessed at more than $760,000 for 2014 taxes.

Four other suspects, including three men and a woman, remain unidentified. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Officer Hidayat at 240-773-5500.

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