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Judge Says 69-Year-Old Woman’s Apartment “Shooting Gallery″

September 2, 1989

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A 69-year-old woman was evicted from her government-subsidized apartment by a judge who called it a ″shooting gallery and a haven for drug dealing″ and said she had done nothing to stop it.

Thursday’s eviction was the first of its kind under a new anti-drug clause in Austin Housing Authority leases that allows the eviction of a family if one member is arrested on a narcotics charge.

Justice of the Peace Ricardo Madrigal said that Novella Caro - who shares the three-bedroom apartment with a daughter, granddaughter and grandson - knew of the drug activities and failed to stop them.

Madrigal ordered Ms. Caro out of the apartment within five days.

Ms. Caro’s apartment was raided twice by police in eight months. Police said several people were arrested and that cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia were confiscated.

Ms. Caro was not arrested and was not present during the raids. But Madrigal ruled that Ms. Caro, as head of the household, should be held responsible for the activities.

A resident of local housing projects nearly 18 years, Ms. Caro said she will live with a daughter for a while, and ″after that, I don’t know.″ She receives $362 a month in Social Security benefits.

She said she knew her daughters used drugs but did not know that drugs were being sold or used in her house.

But information in police reports and testimony in Thursday’s trial suggested otherwise.

According to one report, a police informant had purchased cocaine from her. The president of the housing project’s tenants council and Ms. Caro’s neighbor, Lou Cora McCarther, said that twice she witnessed Ms. Caro’s participation in narcotics deals.

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