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Rock Island Crack House to Be Demolished Monday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2009

Rock Island, Ill. – The police were called to what has become known as “Big Mama’s House” more than 300 times, but on Monday, Rock Island Police Chief John Wright will be joined by members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI’s Quad Cities Federal Gang Task Force as the house is demolished. The house, at 705 9th Avenue in Rock Island, served as home base for members of the Lee family who are in federal prison after being convicted of dealing crack cocaine.

The house, used to facilitate drug dealing, was subject to forfeiture under the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program. After the home was forfeited, the U.S. Marshals Service determined the house was uninhabitable and the U.S. Attorney’s Office facilitated the transfer of the property to the City of Rock Island so the house could be demolished.

Chief Wright said, “Today, we’re tearing down a nuisance house – on behalf of appreciative neighbors and every police officer who has dealt with a notorious house on their beat – who wished they could tear it down and give it to the neighbors. For many years, this house and the individuals arrested in this investigation, were very visible signs of the destruction resulting from crack cocaine and violence. The demolition of the Lee residence visibly demonstrates the commitment by Quad City law enforcement agencies to use every available tool to combat violent crime and drug activity in our community.”

“There have been many other improvements in this neighborhood, including the Habitat for Humanity Park and Douglas Park Place and the city is moving forward with renovations to the Martin Luther King Center,” continued Chief Wright. “The demolition of this notorious house is one more example of our commitment to positive change.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey B. Lang said, “For nearly a decade, this house was an epicenter of criminal activity. Police were called here more than 300 times and it was also the site of a homicide in 2006. Razing the house is a fitting tribute to the cooperative effort by all the law enforcement agencies involved in this prosecution.”

Among the defendants charged and convicted as result of the conspiracy case filed in federal court in May 2007, are Jeffie Jearline Lee, also known as “Big Mama,” sentenced to one year in prison for maintaining a drug-involved premise, and five of her children sentenced to prison terms for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine: Kash Deshawn Lee, sentenced to life in prison; Vernon Lashawn Lee and Fredrick Dwann Lee, each sentenced to 20 years in prison; Angela Marie Lee, sentenced to 15 years and 8 months; and Kendrick Eugene Lee, sentenced to four years in prison.

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