Published January 13, 2015
A couple who won a $2.6 million lottery jackpot and spoke of helping young people fight drug addiction and alcohol abuse are facing a lawsuit alleging they held four months of parties with public sex, fights and signs of drug dealing.
The city lawsuit against Elizabeth and Samuel Howard also detailed allegations of an assault on a neighbor, slashed tires and loud music.
Samuel Howard, 54, denied the allegations.
"I just feel like I'm a victim in the whole situation," he said Friday.
The lawsuit was filed under a little-used chronic nuisance law aimed at ridding neighborhoods of crime-infested properties. The city wants to board the house up for six to 12 months, according to Roland Iparraguirre, a deputy city attorney.
The Howards, who accepted a lump-sum payment of $871,000 from the Oregon Lottery in October 2005, bought the house at the end of a cul-de-sac last July for $285,000, according to city records.
In the first four months after they moved in, police were called to the street 52 times, the lawsuit said. It said children are often used as lookouts and there are frequent, brief visits and multiple locks on the door, all indications of drug dealing.
The Oregonian newspaper said the couple and two sons named in the lawsuit have criminal histories including convictions for drug offenses and robbery.
Howard said the house is on the market. Iparraguirre said the litigation would be dropped if the house is sold and the alleged criminal activity stops.