Lexington police are acting against the liquor licenses of four local businesses, including three strip clubs.
Camelot West, Camelot East, Paradise City Gentleman’s Club and Envy — The Event Complex all have had charges filed against them with local Alcoholic Beverage Control officials.
“These places have (had) numerous violations over the past several years,” said Lexington police Commander Rodney Sherrod, who heads the department’s East Sector and previously oversaw the department’s Alcoholic Beverage Control unit.
He said the police department’s goal is to work with business owners to prevent criminal activity and to educate them about the law. When those attempts fail, he said police must act.
“We can’t turn a blind eye for public safety,” Sherrod said. “It’s to the point where something’s got to be done.”
But attorneys who represent two of the clubs said they should not be held responsible just because a crime happens outside.
“They want us to be able to read people’s minds and know what they’re going to do so we can prevent them from doing it in a split second,” said Tucker Richardson, the attorney for Camelot East. “Are we supposed to walk everybody to their car? Are we supposed to search their cars?”
Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said Chief Mark Barnard has “made it pretty clear that he wants this to be a priority.”
The Lexington Division of Police has officers who investigate violations of Alcoholic Beverage Control laws and file reports on them.
The police department’s ABC unit consists of a sergeant and a detective who review those reports and often visit with business owners about potential violations, said Lt. Jackie Newman, who previously served as the sergeant in the ABC unit.
She said the law department reviews cases and determines whether the city should proceed with administrative charges against a business; in cases where action is taken, a local ABC administrator presides over hearings and acts in the capacity of a judge to determine whether a business should face fines, suspension or revocation of its liquor license.
Businesses that are censured can appeal to the state ABC office and ultimately to Franklin Circuit Court. Newman said the process can take up to two years.
Envy — The Event Complex
Envy — The Event Complex at 2319 Woodhill Drive is facing several charges related to incidents on May 1, March 25 and March 26. A pre-hearing conference has been scheduled for Tuesday in connection with the case.
On May 1, police say the venue had an incident of domestic violence and served alcohol to two people who were under the influence.
Two men were injured in a shooting in the parking lot outside the venue at about 2:30 a.m. March 26. Police said at the time that there had been disorder inside and the men were kicked out of the club.
Police subsequently alleged that the establishment had violated liquor laws by having fighting patrons, shots fired, controlled substances and smoking on the premises. It also allowed bikini sparring without a license. Some employees were not properly trained on regulations for serving alcohol and for having alcohol outside its original container.
On March 25, police say, a felony theft occurred, which prompted another charge against the club.
Sherrod said police have met with the operators of Envy, which has also been referred to as Club Envy, and he thinks “they are trying to steer clear” of renting the venue to groups that might “bring negativity.”
Virginia Macaw, one of the partners in the business according to the state ABC website, declined comment.
Paradise City at 987 Winchester Road, which has also been known as Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club, is scheduled for a hearing at the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Frankfort on July 13.
The club is appealing a decision by the city’s ABC administrator to suspend its license for a year and fine the club $3,750.
That decision was rendered in December based on charges that the club was a “disorderly premises” where shots were fired.
Last May, when the club was known as Diamonds, a man was seriously wounded when he was shot in the back outside the club.
Diamonds was also linked to shootings in February and June 2015.
Because of those incidents, as well as other issues, state and local alcoholic beverage control officials have sought to suspend or revoke its liquor license.
Manfred Jaschkowitz, the owner of Paradise City, said Saturday that he voluntarily closed the business for a month and changed the name back to Paradise City after the incidents.
He said security pats patrons down as they come into the club, but “I don’t strip-search people.” He said someone intent on bringing in a gun might find a way to do it.
“Whose fault is it if somebody brings a weapon into a prison?” he said. “If you have a liquor license, it’s all your fault. That’s what they’re saying. I’m not responsible for what somebody else does.”
Errol Cooper, the attorney representing the club, said Jaschkowitz is not responsible unless he “either brought it about or failed to do something.
“We feel like there’s really little or no merit to any of the charges,” he said. “He runs a business and things happen. He does the best he can.”
Camelot West has also been the scene of shootings in recent years. The club voluntarily closed last month, but Lexington police said they are still pursuing having the club’s liquor license revoked in order to prevent it from reopening.
The club is scheduled for a hearing with the state ABC board on July 26, Angel, the police spokeswoman, said, and a local case is proceeding as well.
Herald-Leader archives indicate that at least five people have been shot around the club since 2010, and two of them died.
In March, a man was taken to the hospital after being shot outside the club at 1761 Alexandria Drive.
In August, Robert Fitzgerald Greer died after being shot in the head twice while sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked at the club.
In April 2015, a man was shot in the lower back when a car pulled into the parking lot and shot into the crowd of people leaving Camelot West.
In August 2013, police said a man assaulted one of the waitresses inside the club. Bouncers intervened, and the man went to his car, retrieved a gun and fired multiple rounds into a crowd that had gathered outside, wounding a bouncer in the leg.
And in December 2010, Rocardo “Tezzy” Cole, 29, died after being shot in the parking lot.
State authorities suspended the club’s liquor license for 30 days and fined the business $7,500 in 2008 because a 14-year-old girl spent two days working there as a stripper. An owner, Ronald Shields, said at the time that the girl showed him a fake identification card.
Shields could not be reached for comment.
Camelot West’s sister club, Camelot East, has had its liquor license revoked by Lexington’s Alcoholic Beverage Control administrator because of criminal activity in the area around the establishment, which sits off Richmond Road near Patchen Drive.
Camelot East has 30 days to appeal the decision, and it can continue to serve alcohol during that time.
In an order dated May 5, Lexington-Fayette Urban County ABC Administrator Frank F. Wilson II ordered the club’s license revoked because of “disorderly premises” in which patrons were “fighting or shots fired.” He also cited other violations including a “foreign bottle of alcohol” and a gun on the premises, as well as “service to intoxicated persons” and patrons fighting.
He ordered a $50 fine because of the foreign bottle of alcohol, as well as “controlled substance on premises,” “allowed smoking on premises,” and a violation of “Responsible Beverage Server Training.”
Richardson, the attorney, said Camelot East has been in business for 38 years without prior problems.
“We’ve done everything we can to help the police,” he said. “Tell us how to fix this problem and we’ll do it.”
Richardson said the business has put new policies in effect as a result of incidents of violence outside its doors. He said Camelot East does not allow anyone inside with a bag and uses a wand to check patrons for guns. It also does not permit anyone inside who is under 25.
“It’s not good for our business,” he said of the violence. “We want our clientele to feel safe.”
At least five people have been shot near Camelot East in just over a year.
In February, Laroz Lee Mitchell, 23, died of multiple gunshot wounds. It was the second time shots had been fired near the club that month. No injuries were reported in the earlier shooting, but a window was damaged at nearby Sheabel Veterinary Hospital.
In November, William Thornton, 30, died after being found lying in the club’s parking lot with a gunshot wound to the head. A second man was shot in the chest at the same time.
And in April 2015, two people were injured in a shooting that occurred inside the club, police said at the time. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Richardson said that in one instance, two “buddies” had been inside the club together without any problems, and operators had no way of knowing they were going to be outside shooting after leaving the club.
In another case, Richardson said, “they can’t even tell us that they (the people involved in the shooting) were in our club.”
And in one incident when a fight broke out in the parking lot, Richardson said, “We run out there to stop them and one of them picks up a bottle and hits one of my guys in the head — and we get in trouble for it. If people just start getting in a fight, we’ll stop it as quick as we can, but how can we be responsible for that?”
Richardson said that “police need to step in there. … Find out who these people are.”
“We’re not prepared to take on these young hoodlums who have guns,” he said.
While three of the four local businesses that are currently facing charges are strip clubs, Angel said any business with a liquor license is subject to investigation and penalties, and there are strip clubs that do not have problems.
“It’s not because of what they do,” she said. “It’s because of how they’re doing it.”