Petaluma police Monday arrested the suspected kingpin of a notorious east Petaluma drug operation hiding in a closet of his 86-year-old mother’s home, huddled under luggage and clothing.
Residents of the otherwise peaceful 1600 block of Weaverly Drive are hopeful that the arrest of 54-year-old Kyle Richardson coupled with a series of recent court actions will put an end to years of turmoil in the neighborhood. In the past five years, the home has racked up 776 calls for service, with police logging 45 narcotics-related arrests, according to city records. Police have fielded 186 calls for service this year alone and residents say the historically blight-ridden house has been a neighborhood eyesore.
The latest arrest comes on the heels of a July 31 court action declaring the home a public nuisance. A judge ordered that drug activity cease and the home be closed and placed under the court’s custody for a year. Kyle Richardson, his sister and mother are on the hook for at least $65,000 in penalties stemming from the court’s decision.
The order also granted police the ability to search the home as necessary, which led to the 7:40 a.m. arrest of Richardson Monday, Petaluma Police Lt. Brian Miller said.
Police found three people inside the home when they arrived for a routine search, including Richardson’s mother and sister, who told police Richardson wasn’t present, he said. Two court orders issued in May barred Richardson from entering the property.
“We had a team clear the house and do a safety sweep,” Miller said. “We were told no one else was there … ultimately, we found (Kyle) in a closet and gave him some commands. He acted like we still didn’t know he was there. He was non-responsive and so an officer ended up getting him out and uncovering him. There were no issues with use of force.”
Richardson allegedly had methamphetamine in his possession and police also found heroin in a family room, with various drug paraphernalia around the home, Miller said.
Richardson, who was also arrested in January and pleaded not guilty to a charge of operating a drug house, was booked into Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of resisting arrest, violating the court order and several drug related charges. He’s being held in lieu of a $110,000 bail.
Richardson’s lawyer for the January case, Erik Bruce, declined to comment on Monday’s arrest, but said the home has been subject to an unfairly high level of scrutiny from neighbors and police.
“When I first looked at this case, it looked pretty bad,” Bruce said. “When I started to dig deeper, I started to hear things like the neighbors saying they can’t wait to get rid of the black guy.”
He said there’s no way to “cross check” city records, and the hefty portfolio of arrests “may not have been associated with the house.” He said Richardson was unaware of alleged drug activity or people under the influence of drugs in the home, and he has testimony from at least one guest admitting to using heroin without telling Richardson.
“When you invite people over, do you know what they do in the bathroom?” he said.
Meanwhile, neighbors have detailed a myriad of issues with the home in interviews and at public meetings, describing a life of habitual fear with constant foot traffic and police action, nefarious individuals loitering and used syringes, condoms and beer bottles discarded in families’ yards.