The Boulevard Inn at 785 Niagara Falls Boulevard has become a hot bed of prostitution and crime. Recent arrests at the motel have neighbors calling on the Town of Amherst to shut down the establishment. In the last year there have been arrests of drug dealers, pimps, and criminals on the run.
Just this week, a Buffalo man was charged with running a sex trafficking operation out of the motel, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s office. Derek Harris, 22, allegedly ran the operation involving several victims, some as young as 14, using the website Backpage.com.
Harris faces the charges of sex trafficking, first-degree criminal sex act, first-degree promoting prostitution and second-degree promoting prostitution. He has pleaded not guilty and his bail is set at $150,000. He faces up to 50 years behind bars if convicted.
Jayesh Patel acquired the 22-room motel in late 2014, paying $600,000 for the property through JAI Bhole Inc. At the same time he purchased University Motor Inn, a 37 room motel on Main Street across from the University at Buffalo, for $1.67 million through another entity, JAI Gurudev Inc.
At the time he said that the properties would be run better.
But neighbors and nearby business owners say that Patel changed the fee structure of the motel, allowing people to pay by the week rather than the night. That change has attracted a criminal element to the quiet neighborhood, located about a mile north of Kenmore Avenue.
Patel now owns nearly 30 hotels and motels, many of them outside the Buffalo Niagara region. He also owns the Hampton Inn in Niagara Falls, opened in 2014 and a Holiday Inn Express on Anderson Road in Cheektowaga near the Walden Galleria.
Patel is currently renovating the former Dunlop Tire headquarters on Grand Island, with the generous help of Empire State Development.
With the issue of human trafficking so prominent in the national discourse, the issue is likely to be at the crux of the Amherst Town Supervisor’s race later this year — in which incumbent Supervisor Barry Weinstein is term limited. The Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa (D) and Amherst Town Clerk Marjory Yeager (R) are vying for the office. Neither candidate has yet offered public comment about the nuisance property, or whether they will shut down the establishment if elected.
In 2015, Patel contributed $500 to the campaign of Guy Marlette, the former Town Councilman and candidate for County Legislature.