House boarded under nuisance order in foreclosure

Joshua Morrison/News Knox County Sheriff's Office Detective Aaron Phillips staples an injunction to the boarded up front door of a Crystal Avenue home on April 28, 2020.

Joshua Morrison/News
Knox County Sheriff’s Office Detective Aaron Phillips staples an injunction to the boarded up front door of a Crystal Avenue home on April 28, 2020.


MOUNT VERNON — A Mount Vernon man whose residence was boarded up under a nuisance order for drug activity was sentenced on related criminal charges Thursday in Knox County Common Pleas Court.

Robert Matheny, 54, was sentenced to two years probation by Common Pleas Judge Richard Wetzel on charges of permitting drug abuse and aggravated possession of drugs. As part of his probation, Matheny will be enrolled in drug court.

The permitting drug abuse charge stems from April 27, when Matheny allowed his home at 401 Crystal Ave. to be used for drug trafficking activity. The charge against Matheny was accompanied by a civil nuisance order issued April 28 that ordered the property to be vacated by all inhabitants and boarded up.

Chase Sherman, 36, Mount Vernon, was arrested at the property when it was searched by police and later indicted on multiple charges, including trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound. Sherman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A woman, who was not arrested, was also at the residence.

Assistant Public Defender John Dankovitch said the permitting drug abuse charge came about because Matheny “found himself in a situation where he was afraid to kick people out.” Dankovitch asked that his client be enrolled in drug court.

“He’s had periods where he’s done really well with it (drug recovery programs),” Dankovitch said. “He’s no spring chicken anymore, and this is not what he wants to do with the rest of his life.”

Matheny asked if he could get back into the house to retrieve some of his personal property. Wetzel said he will need to work with probation authorities to re-enter the home.

The house is currently in foreclosure for $5,015.52 in back taxes. Knox County Prosecuting Attorney Chip McConville said there are multiple interested parties in the house, and a single-day showing could be arranged for prospective buyers sometime soon.

The house is on the Knox County Land Bank’s radar, Area Development Foundation Vice President Sam Filkins said, as it “fits within the profile of properties” the land bank takes. However, “nothing serious has come up” in the way of taking possession of the property, Filkins said.

The land bank takes ‘problem’ properties and tries to find a new owner who will rehabilitate the home, putting it back on the positive side of the property tax rolls.

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