FBI raids Odell's, seizes documents

September 02, 1992|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

More than two dozen FBI agents, some armed with shotguns and wearing body armor, swooped down on the troubled Odell's nightclub yesterday morning, seizing two boxes of documents and a personal computer, officials said.

Special Agent Rosemary S. Vicini, an FBI spokeswoman, said the raid was part of an ongoing investigation, but would not say who or what the target of the investigation was.

FBI agents were executing a federal search and seizure warrant, and there were no arrests, she said. Agent Vicini said agents removed one computer and the contents of two cardboard boxes, but would not say what else, if anything, was taken in the raid.

The spokeswoman would not say what the boxes contained, but law enforcement sources said the cartons contained documents. But those sources would not be more specific.

FBI agents, backed up by uniformed Baltimore City police officers, arrived at Charles Street and North Avenue just after 9 a.m. and cut the padlocks off the front and side doors to the nightspot. Agents were in the establishment, at 21 E. North Ave., for nearly three hours before closing it and putting new padlocks on the doors, officials said.

The nightclub was not seized by the federal government, and keys to the new padlocks will be given to the owner or owner's representative, Agent Vicini said.

The FBI spokeswoman said the use of shotguns and body armor was "standard procedure" for the agency's "entry team," the first agents on the scene of a raid.

City police were not involved in the raid or the investigation, but were present at the request of the FBI to provide support, such as traffic and crowd control, officials said. No federal agencies other than the FBI were involved in the seizures, Agent Vicini said.

State Del. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat and one of the club's lawyers in city zoning matters, said he was unaware that FBI agents had raided Odell's and was informed of the raid by calls from the press. "I have absolutely no idea why [the club was raided]," Mr. Cummings said. "I was shocked that it was raided. I have no details whatsoever."

Milton Tillman, president of 19-21 Inc., the corporate owner of the club, could not be reached for comment.

Lawyers for 19-21 Inc. and Mr. Tillman are scheduled to appear before a Baltimore Circuit Court judge today for a "status conference" on the fate of the nightspot, which has been operating without a zoning permit for more than one year, pending resolution of a city zoning case.

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