Oneida Motel Deemed Public Nuisance, Closed by Authorities

Oneida, TN (2018-04-18) After years of complaints about seedy activity and multiple drug and sex crime arrests, authorities shuttered a local motel Wednesday morning—deeming it a public nuisance.

Oneida Police Chief Darryl Laxton, District Attorney General Jared Effler, and Assistant DA Matt McClung (L-R) oversee the closure of the Oneida Family Motel following the issuance of an injunction by Criminal Court Judge E. Shayne Sexton declaring the business a public nuisance.

The Oneida Police Department, along with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, executed a court order Wednesday morning temporarily closing the Oneida Family Motel.  Once a thriving business that was a restful retreat for road weary travelers on U.S. 27, the former Tobes’ Motel in Oneida, recently had become a haven of criminal activity.  In recent years, local authorities had arrested numerous people on drug and sex-related crimes and responded to hundreds of other complaints about illegal activity.

According to a petition filed in Scott County Criminal Court by 8th Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler requesting the business be declared a public nuisance, the Oneida Police Department and Scott County Sheriff’s Office had responded to more than 250 complaints at the motel in the past twelve months.  “(The motel) is a business where criminal activity is rampant, including drug trafficking, domestic violence, lewd sexual activity, and breaches of the peace,” Effler wrote.  The document cited 27 specific incidents involving acts of domestic violence, sexual assault, assault, narcotics trafficking, and theft.  While most of the incidents involved guests of the motel, two of the allegations were aimed at the motel management; including an instance where raw sewage was allegedly pumped down a storm drain behind a nearby restaurant, and a large pile of mattresses, box springs, and bedding was piled up beside the motel.

Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips and Chief Detective Randy Lewallen talk with the owner of Mi Rancho Mexican Restuarant which is co-located on the motel property. The restaurant is not part of the injunction and will remain open.

The motel had become the permanent residence of many individuals and destitute families, as the motel had reportedly transitioned from a nightly stay venue to more of a weekly and monthly housing rental.  At the time of the execution of the order, it was unclear how many people were staying at the motel.

Real estate records show the facility is owned by Chris and Nada Yousif of Dandridge, TN.  The couple has owned the facility since 2012.  Following the acquisition, the motel’s name was changed to Cornerstone Lodging.  It was later rebranded and became the Oneida Family Motel.

Records indicate the couple have not paid real estate taxes on the tract in 2017 and have outstanding personal property taxes on the motel and other ongoing concerns at the site for 2017 and previous years.

Judge Sexton ordered the owners to appear before him in Scott County Criminal Court at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 19, 2018 to show cause why a permanent injunction should not be issued.