Police say ban fails to stop drinking at club Patrons found taking alcohol into bar

September 18, 1996|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Three weeks after the city liquor board banned alcohol at a rowdy North Baltimore nightclub, undercover police and liquor inspectors have reported that people are still drinking there.

The board indefinitely suspended the New 32nd Street Plaza's license Aug. 22 and prohibited the club from allowing patrons to bring in alcohol. But police and liquor inspectors last week found patrons bringing drinks into the club.

Patrons also have been fighting -- inside and outside the bar in the 400 block of E. 32nd St. -- prompting police to make several arrests in recent weeks.

Jane Schroeder, liquor board deputy executive secretary, said yesterday the board's lawyer will seek an order in Baltimore Circuit Court this week to enforce the license suspension and prohibition on alcohol.

Club owner James Scroggins, asked yesterday about alcohol still being allowed in the nightclub, said, "They are?"

"Let me get down there and see what's going on," he said before hanging up the phone.

Lawyer George L. Russell, who represents the bar, did not return a reporter's call.

Police and liquor officials say they don't recall a bar owner defying the board's orders to shut down. "To my knowledge that has never occurred before," said liquor board Chairman George G. Brown, who has served on the board for 17 years.

On Thursday, two undercover police officers were allowed into the bar after being body searched.

According to a police report, they saw a white plastic covering over the bar and its liquor bottles. When asked where they could get a drink, they were directed to a liquor store a half-block away, where they bought wine coolers, then returned to the bar.

In addition to watching other patrons consuming alcohol, the officers noted that many people in the bar looked too young to be drinking.

"The young ladies that we observed drinking beer, some from the bottle, and some from plastic cups, looked under age. In fact, half the people in the [club] looked under age ," the report states.

Sgt. Jack W. Kincaid said that since the club's license was suspended, eight people have been arrested there and charged with disorderly conduct, assault, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

In an incident Sept. 1, a police officer was called to the bar shortly before 1 a.m. to break up a fight.

When he was assaulted, at least 10 more officers came to his aid and arrested three people, said Kincaid.

The Abell community's lawyer, Art Buist -- who also lives in the neighborhood -- said nighttime disturbances have continued since the license suspension.

"We wondered why it was still a problem if all they were serving was coffee and orange juice," he said.

Pub Date: 9/18/96

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