Controversial Sunset club suing local police commander loses liquor license
They can party, but they can’t drink, at controversial Sunset Park club Love and Lust, which lost its liquor license on Tuesday, May 16.
The cancellation of the license by the New York State Liquor Authority, “due to the sheer number of violations and repetitive nature of the violations” comes on the heels of club owner Imran Jairam alleging in a $125 million notice of claim filed against the city, the NYPD and the SLA that 72nd Precinct Commander and Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez demanded contributions to Puerto Rican relief efforts to forestall enforcement of violations at the bar.
During the SLA hearing, Chairperson Vincent Bradley said that the administrative law judge (ALJ) had, “found there is little to no supervision over the conduct of the premises and my reading of the decision supports that.”
According to SLA, the club has four open cases pending against it with a total of 11 charges, including, “becoming a focal point for police attention and failure to supervise and disorderly premises.”
“We have failure to supervise, we do have focal point for police attention and he’s got a three year history here that’s impressive,” added Bradley. “I can’t leave this the way it is.”
During the hearing, another board member cited “lewd and indecent” activities, noting, “People are passing out in front of the location, laying in their own urine and feces, being removed to the medical center.”
In 2014, the club was charged with disorderly premises and failure to supervise. Charges were sustained by an ALJ and the SLA imposed a $5,000 civil penalty. In 2015 and 2016, the club was hit with 15 charges in three separate cases, including 12 charges for noise/nuisance and for becoming a focal point for police attention. The SLA imposed a $15,000 civil penalty.
In 2016 and 2017, the club was slammed with 16 charges for “availing [allowing someone else to use their license] and failure to comply with local regulations. Eight of the charges were sustained by the ALJ and the board imposed a $20,000 civil penalty.”
The board sustained four of the nine charges on April 18 and canceled the club’s liquor license. The cancellation was stayed pending reconsideration, but, a month later, at the May meeting, it was affirmed.
The license revocation — and litany of complaints about the club — came as a surprise to Community Board 7, whose chair, Cesar Zuniga, said he had learned of it from a Daily News story.
Zuniga, who called the number of complaints about the club “pretty shocking,” noted, “Obviously, just because the community board hadn’t really heard anything about the club doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a hot spot for different types of quality-of-life issues. I have no reason to dispute or distrust the data I was shown by the precinct and I think if they lost their license, it speaks to the fact that they haven’t been good neighbors down there.”
A lot of the complaints were phoned in to 911, not to the board, according to CB 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer, who told this paper, “The specific complaints we had about this business predated the current owner. We have had quality-of-life complaints in the area but nothing that specifically mentions the location and quite frankly, there are few people that live at that area.”
The board had previously written a letter in support of the club. Going forward, however, Zuniga said that changes would be made in the board’s protocols with respect to such matters.
“Before we do that, we will engage in basic due diligence to see if there are any Consumer Affairs reports, or data from the police or Fire Department,” he said. “If we feel comfortable that everything is good then I have no problem writing letters of support. We want business to thrive in this community. But once I saw the data, and all the 311 and 911 calls, I said this isn’t the sort of place I want to support in a community where there are a lot of children. I don’t see any way that we as a community board or a community can support this kind of establishment.”
Attorney Delvis Valdes, who is representing Gonzalez, also chimed in on the loss of the club’s liquor license. “Police have had to respond inside the club,” he said. “Not only do you have to worry about inside the club when you have a liquor license, you have to worry about around the club. You can’t just be oblivious to the world around you. You can’t serve patrons alcohol to the point where they’re intoxicated and go out to the neighborhood and cause havoc, urinating, defecating, driving while intoxicated, assaulting others, causing disturbances.”
However, Jairam’s attorney Eric Sanders is singing a very different tune. telling the Daily News, “We have a First Amendment right to operate and operate we will soon, once ridding ourselves of these parasitic governmental influences.”
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