Neighbors of a grandmother in Buffalo, N.Y., who is set to be sentenced to prison this week for dealing crack, say that their community misses her and that it was a safer neighborhood when she was there.
Theresa Anderson, 58, was charged with drug conspiracy in June after authorities discovered that she operated a large crack cocaine trade and employed her children and grandchildren in the business. Anderson will reportedly forfeit $52,000 and 10 houses that she owns.
“I miss Theresa, I really do,” said neighbor Debra Walker. “I actually felt safer. Now my place has been broken into.”
Still, authorities say that the drug operation actually brought more crime into the neighborhood, with the business literally being operated all day, every day.
“It was a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week operation for the last 12 years,” said Attorney William Hochul, “and literally hundreds of grams of crack cocaine were sold.”
Buffalo DEA agent Michelle Spahn says that all the operations were performed out of Anderson’s home, and that there were constant lookouts that used violence to make sure that other people weren’t trying to ruin Anderson’s business.
“It was kind of like a monopoly,” she said. “They used intimidation and violence ... to make sure that the competition didn’t come into her neighborhood.”
Still, neighbors say that Anderson took care of her community, despite her issues with drugs and her large operation.
Neighbor Deanna Gresko says that since Anderson’s arrest, there is more crime, including an influx of prostitution that never occurred before.
“There was people here,” said Gresko. “There was people watching. [Anderson] wasn’t a gang-banger drug dealer who would threaten you.”
Common Council member David Franczyk says that despite her being a nice woman who took care of neighbors, she was still bringing crime to the area.
“It’s a sad commentary,” said Franczyk. “It’s like the old days of Prohibition when you looked for the mob to keep order on your street. But it’s a false sense of security. She’s bringing criminals into the neighborhood.”
Anderson faces up to 17 ½ years in jail for the crack-dealing operation.