Police lieutenant tended bar at strip club, lawyer says

`A lot of tricking' at party, witness says

October 03, 2001|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Seeking to fire a longtime lieutenant accused of "working in a whorehouse" while on duty, a Baltimore Police Department lawyer said yesterday that the officer ordered records changed to show he was off duty.

Departmental chief legal counsel Sean R. Malone also contended at a hearing that Lt. John M. Mack was tending bar at a club where police have said 25 strippers were entertaining 50 patrons April 1. Mack was discovered at the club during an early morning raid by the state comptroller's office and city police who suspected alcohol was being sold illegally.

Mack was scheduled to be working from 6 p.m. March 31 to 2 a.m. April 1, according to police.

The case against Mack is being heard by three police officials and could result in Mack, a 17-year-veteran, being removed from the force.

Mack's lawyer, Michael E. Davey, said his client, who faces more than 50 departmental charges, was unfairly targeted. "Believe me, the department does not want to lose this case," he said.

Neither Davey nor Mack would answer questions after the hearing, which continues today.

After being moved to desk duty, Mack ordered one of the detectives he supervised to change records to show that he was not working March 31, officials say.

Police said the night Mack was supposed to be working he was instead at Ronnie's West Side Gallery, in the 2100 block of W. Lanvale St., at a gathering advertised as a "Locked Door Freak Fest." The party featured illegal sales of alcohol, nude dancing and prostitution, according to witnesses.

"There was nothing but a lot of tricking [prostitution] going on," Monica Barnette, a dancer who was at the establishment that night, testified yesterday.

Barnette said that Mack spent much of the night fixing drinks behind the Gallery's small cash bar. She also said that Mack was romantically involved with a woman named "Spice," who helped organize such parties and was a stripper and prostitute.

Although Barnette said she did not realize until later that Mack was a lieutenant, she said that Spice would often talk about having a boyfriend who was a policeman.

After police broke up the gathering, Barnette said she drove away with Spice and Mack, even though officers had ordered Mack to stay. They had found Mack's service pistol behind the bar and wanted to question him. Before driving away, Mack tried to go back inside and get his gun back, Barnette testified.

Barnette said Spice went to her home last Thursday. Although she would not elaborate on their conversation other than to say it was about the hearing, Barnette said she was worried for her safety.

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said after the April 1 incident that Mack was "working in a whorehouse," which prompted Mack to file a defamation suit against Norris.

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