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JUNE 24 - JULY 02, 2014

Rainbow Motel Owner Alkhatib Targeted for Knowing Too Much?

By Mike Hudson

June 24, 2014

A needle was found at the motel. Wow. Must mean drugs? But wait, how many heroin addicts place their hypodermic needles safely in sealed medical containers. Chances are this needle was for a diabetes sufferer. Leave to Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster to ruin someone’s reputation based on flimsy evidence and phony pictures. (Photo courtesy Niagara Gazette).

A warrantless raid by city police and other officials based on a demonstrably false video cooked up by someone and posted on YouTube, gives Rainbow Motel Owner Nasser Alkhatib a pretty good defense when he goes to court on numerous charges related to various inspections and health violations allegedly uncovered by enforcement officers.

And Alkhatib, who has retained legal counsel, says he ready to start fighting back.

"I think this is all political. I think I've been targeted and it's not the first time," he said.

The YouTube video purporting to depict squalid conditions at the Rainbow Motel has been shown to be fraudulent. A Niagara Falls Reporter analysis of the footage shows much of it was taken from NBC News and other websites and actually shows lousy hotel rooms in places like Thailand and Japan.

Niagara Falls authorities, including Mayor Paul Dyster who ordered the raid, made no effort whatsoever to determine whether the video was genuine or not before raiding the motel and searching the rooms of everyone staying there.

This seeming violation of the most fundamental civil liberties and basic human rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution has thus far gone unnoticed by the media here.

In reality, the whole thing looked rather like a publicity stunt, cooked up by a City Hall administration obsessed by wanting to look tough on crime but equally concerned that any real support of the police department might potentially alienate minority voters here.

The YouTube video claims this is the Rainbow Motel. It is actually a bathroom in Thailand.

Acting Code Enforcement Director Dennis Virtuoso, in an interview with the Niagara Gazette, seemed to indicate the raid was ordered by the mayor himself.

"We've had complaints about this motel before," said Virtuoso. "And the mayor got complaints and asked us to look into it."

In his Gazette article, reporter Rick Pfeiffer noted that police have responded to more than 180 calls at the Rainbow over the past four years.

But Alkhatib said many of the calls were routine in nature, and that he's not responsible for the behavior of the people who rent from him in any event.

"I have many persons here who are senior citizens, one of whom is waiting for a heart transplant and others who have health issues that come with age," he said. "They've called for an ambulance dozens of times. Also we did have a local man who was called on multiple times and the police would not arrest him because his family connection with the police department."

As narcotics detectives and intelligence squad officers moved through the motel's bungalows and rooms, they did not find any drugs.

The only drug paraphernalia they found was a scale and bloody needles, which were stored in a container that was designated for proper disposal and might have been used by someone with diabetes.

As one resident told the Reporter, usually drug addicts don't dispose of needles in plastic containers.

The Reporter interviewed more than a dozen residents and none of them said there was any drug use that they knew of.

Most of them were either married with children or senior citizens. There were several disabled people living in the motel.

All of them said they had no knowledge of any prostitution going on at the motel.

Police seized a BB gun during the raid that they claimed might be being used for protection by a suspected prostitute.

A Niagara Falls institution, the Rainbow Motel first opened its doors in 1976. The business was founded by Alkhatib's father and is now run jointly by him and his brother and by observation is no better and or worse than any number of motels located along the sometimes seedy strip of Niagara Falls Boulevard.

Alkhatib said he can remember a time in the not too distant past when bribing city officials was a common occurrence in Niagara Falls.

"I remember a time where the only way you got to operate was when you slipped five $100 bills into the shirt pocket of the code enforcement official or inspector and that's how business as usual took place here," he said.

Current city officials, policemen and judges, he said, are no angels either, sometimes dropping in unannounced at the Rainbow to engage in illicit liaisons.

"I grew up here in Niagara Falls with some of the police officers and they forget that they used to deal the drugs that they now protect and serve against," he said. "Now I've got the judge, the politician and many of the police officers who come to my place to have a quickie with their girlfriend because their wife isn't good enough or isn't giving it to them so they come see me."

"Some of the wives of our (police) officers should check the photos on their husband's phones," he added with a laugh. "No, not that phone. the other one they didn't know about."

In the reader comments section attached to the Gazette's story about the raid, a strong undercurrent of racism and anti-Arab sentiment reared its ugly head.

Alkhatib was referred to as a "towel head" and told to go back where he came from. The commentators, who were often stupid enough to use their own names, were also ignorant to the point that they didn't bother checking to see whether Alkhatib was born in the United States, which he was.

Alkhatib said he is prepared to name names if need be should what he calls the unjust persecution against him continues.

"Remember, they struck first," he said.

According to the YouTube video this is what the mattresses look like at the Rainbow Motel. Actually this a photo taken from NBC news from an unrelated news story. (





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