Civil rights violation alleged in harassment of Salem condo owners

DAVID LE/Staff photo

Two condo neighbors at 163 North St. in Salem say they were forced to sell their units, while a third neighbor — Jody Elliott — is due in Salem District Court next month to face criminal harassment and civil rights charges.

UPDATE: Charges in this case were dismissed in November 2015.

SALEM — Squabbles among the residents of small condos like the one at 163 North St. in Salem are not unusual.

But the one that is happening at that address has gone beyond a squabble, with two neighbors saying they were forced to sell their units.

A third neighbor — Jody Elliott, 57 — is due in Salem District Court next month to face criminal harassment and civil rights charges. Police say she painted an image of Adolf Hitler and a swastika on a door in a common area of the three-unit condo. 

The image upset one of the other unit owners, who is of Jewish descent, and another owner who is gay.

Both have since sold their units and moved out. 

The Hitler image came after months of what police say was a campaign of harassment against the two condo owners. Police say Elliot let her pitbull loose near them, went through their mail, and called police on them repeatedly. 

Elliott, questioned by police last October, denied having anything to do with the anti-Semitic graffiti. She said neither she nor her daughter had been to the basement in the week before the discovery of the image.

But a series of police reports, as well as written memos from both former unit owners, described months of confrontations with Elliott, starting shortly after each of the neighbors moved in. 

One of her neighbors, a former assistant district attorney in Essex County, described being followed by Elliott, seeing Elliott kick her elderly dog, and numerous emails.

Both neighbors said Elliott had routinely violated the condo’s bylaws, including hooking up a washer and dryer so that it used one neighbor’s electricity and both neighbors’ hot water; stacking debris in front of meters to make them inaccessible, and trying to convince plumbers hired by the condo association to do work in her own unit on the association’s dime. 

There were also disputes about condo finances and accusations of misappropriation. After the unit owners agreed to drop the company that had been doing yard work and share the responsibilities, one owner came home to find a bag of waste — both from the yard and from a dog — outside his door. 

The neighbors told police that Elliott or someone in her family would repeatedly set off car alarms and park in a way that made it impossible for the other owners to get in and out of their spaces. 

The situation declined even more rapidly last fall. The former prosecutor sent Elliott a “cease and desist” letter telling her not to contact her directly, instead asking that she go through an attorney. 

On Oct. 20, Salem police took a call about the Hitler drawing. 

The police subsequently took the door down and brought it to the police station as evidence. 

They then sought criminal charges against Elliott, charging her with harassing both of her neighbors and with violating the civil rights of one of them based on her religion. 

Following a clerk magistrate’s hearing last week, the criminal complaint was issued, and Elliott is due in court on June 12.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

||||

Trending Video

Recommended for you