Bank owner cited for meth house deterioration

Neighbors savored a victory Thursday after the bank owner of a dilapidated house where a meth explosion occurred last year -- killing three children -- agreed to make long overdue repairs.

If Chase bank brings the house in unincorporated Lilburn up to code within 30 days, a $9,000 fine will be knocked down to $2,250. The house, at 1197 Spring Mill Drive, was being rented when the Feb. 17, 2011 fire occurred The owner, Socorro Sepulveda, lived in California.  The fines were incurred as part of a plea to code violations in Gwinnett County Recorder's Court.

Neighbors say Sepulveda had the charred material removed from the house, but she did not undertake any renovations. The house is now in the process of going into foreclosure.

Greg Hassell, a spokesman for Chase bank, said "while we have not foreclosed on the property, we have hired a company who has made repairs, cleaned up the yard and sealed the windows and doors.

"We are working closely with the Gwinnett code enforcement to ensure this is taken care of as quickly as possible," Hassell added.

Gwinnett County Police Officer C.R. McFearin, who issued the code violation citations, said a bank representative told him that they are weighing whether to repair or demolish the dwelling. The bank has requested bids from contractors for both jobs, according to McFearin.

Hassell said he could not confirm the officer's statement.

The house is situated at the entrance to the Spring Mill subdivision just off Five Forks Trickum Road. Neighbors have complained that the house is a constant reminder of the explosion that imparted deadly burns to Stacy Brito, 18 months old, Ivan Guevara, 3, and Isaac Guevara, 4.

The children's mother, Neibi Brito, and two men, Joseph Alexander Perez and Ivan Gonzales, are accused of manufacturing methaphetamine out of a liquid meth oil found inside the rental home. Police carted away 4,555 grams of liquid meth after the fire. The children were rescued, but they succumbed to burn injuries later in the hospital.

Brito, 23, and Perez, 31, are being held without bond at the Gwinnett County jail on charges of felony murder and manufacturing and trafficking in meth. Gonzales is at large.

Don Kiefaber, a realtor who lives in the subdivision, said he and several other neighbors have been calling and emailing county code enforcement officers and their district commissioner, Mike Beaudreau, every month for the past year to beg them to do something about the house. He thinks it should be torn down.

"Knowing what happened there, I can't see anybody wanting to live on that corner, certainly not in that house," Kiefaber said.