3 clubs shut hundreds of patrons dispersed

Two Eutaw lounges cited for operating after hours

November 25, 1996|By Kathy Lally | Kathy Lally,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's Central District vice police had their weekend planned -- they were staking out prostitutes on North Avenue. Then other targets arose, and they spent their time shutting down three clubs and routing hundreds of late-night party-goers.

"We were working a prostitution deal," Sgt. Craig Gentile said yesterday, "and we got a snitch saying Gallery 21 East was holding something, so we altered the game plan."

At 9: 40 p.m. Saturday, an undercover officer bought a ticket at the door of Gallery 21 East, the former Odells, in the second block of E. North Ave., went inside and bought a beer, Gentile said.

Gentile called a zoning department supervisor, Michael Savino, and a liquor inspector. They arrived at 11: 30 p.m. and cited the club for selling liquor to a nonmember, in violation of its permit, and for selling a ticket at the door, in violation of requirements that tickets be sold in advance.

"We have been in there between a dozen and 15 times since January for numerous violations," Gentile said. "It's zoned as a rental/banquet hall."

In addition to other violations, he said, the club had about 300 patrons, about 50 more than allowed. It also had a band playing on the second floor, which has no sprinkler system, and three poker video games operating without a license.

Patrons, who had paid $15, demanded their money back; it took until 1: 30 a.m. yesterday to clear the club, Gentile said.

Officers heard some customers being told they could use their tickets at Club Trilogy in the 300 block of N. Eutaw St., so Savino, Gentile, his six men and a couple of uniformed officers decided they would look in there, too.

At 2: 45 a.m. yesterday, they cited Club Trilogy for operating after-hours and dispersed about 150 customers.

"Then we decided to walk up the block," to the 400 block of N. Eutaw St. to the Gallery of Clubs, Gentile said, "and at 3: 10 a.m. they were shut down for operating after 2 a.m."

xTC The police decided not to make arrests and only issued citations. "The key thing was to get them out," Gentile said.

The Gallery of Clubs had about 200 patrons, he said.

"There were so many bodies in there, and it was so humid that our eyeglasses were fogging up," he said.

Gentile said the night's work did not represent any stepped-up enforcement, despite an announcement this month by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke that the city would be cracking down on nightclub violations. Two people were shot to death last month outside Volcano's, a nightclub operating illegally on Greenmount Avenue.

"We have been sticking on these clubs, and we try to nip it in the bud," Gentile said. "A month down the road they may try it again, and they're going to get caught."

In May, 10 people were shot across the street from Gallery 21 East, though none was seriously wounded.

The club had been operated as Odells by Milton Tillman, who was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison in 1993 for offering a $30,000 bribe to a member of the Baltimore zoning board to vote to keep the club open.

Pub Date: 11/25/96

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