Judge Issues Consent Judgment in Bolton Nuisance Case

WHITEVILLE – Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser has entered a consent judgment against a nuisance property located at 316 Lizzie’s Drive, Bolton.  The defendant and property owner in this lawsuit is John H. Freeman. 

This judgment is the final step in a civil nuisance abatement action brought by Columbus County District Attorney Jon David, on behalf of the State of North Carolina. Chapter 19 of the N.C. General Statutes defines a public nuisance, and allows for a civil remedy to abate such nuisance activities.

The investigation and information gathered for this lawsuit was a joint effort between members of the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office and N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement's Nuisance Abatement Team.

“The property on Lizzie’s Drive, often known as the Hideaway Club, attracted large crowds that wreaked havoc in the surrounding community,” said Josh Batten, ALE’s assistant special agent in charge of the Nuisance Abatement Team. “As a result of these gatherings, the property has had a long and sordid history of criminal activities, including alcohol violations, assaults and murders.” 

Under the terms of the judgment, the property is effectually closed, and may never be used again as a club or similar gathering place. The owner of the property is prohibited from operating a nuisance at this location or anywhere in North Carolina.  In addition, this judgment prohibits the possession of alcoholic beverages on the property, and limits the number of people allowed on the property for one year following the date of the judgment.  

"When locations become social gathering places for those inclined to solve problems with violence, it is imperative we all work together for the safety of the community at large,” said David. “I sincerely appreciate the cooperation and reasonableness of the property owner, Mr. Freeman, in allowing for a timely and successful resolution that enhances public safety, and reassures the property will be used for legitimate purposes in the future.”

"The law enforcement community is grateful for the cooperation of everyone involved in this resolution, as we are assured the community will be a safer place for everyone,” said Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher. "I would like to thank the District Attorney’s Office, the N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement Branch, and the citizens of this community for their help.

“We are extremely pleased to offer assistance to our law enforcement partners in working to resolve these cases that subsequently provide permanent and effective positive impacts throughout communities in our state,” said Josh Batten, assistant special agent in charge of the Nuisance Abatement Team. “This judgment brings some closure to families who have endured hardship and loss directly related to violence at this property.”

Editor’s Note: For more information, contact Columbus County District Attorney Jon David at (910) 641-4410.