Baltimore police close nightclub linked to gangs for second time

Armed security guards arrested at Northeast Baltimore nightspot

May 17, 2010|By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

A Northeast Baltimore nightclub that had been padlocked by city police and labeled a gang hangout by federal prosecutors opened illegally over the weekend, according to police, who said they arrested two men pretending to be officers and armed with loaded handguns.

Officers passing by Club 410 in the 4500 block of Belair Road heard loud noise and stopped to investigate. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said about 350 people had jammed inside the establishment, which does not have a valid liquor license.

The spokesman said two security guards were arrested and charged with illegal possession of handguns and impersonating police officers.

Guglielmi said each was armed with a .40-caliber Glock, the same type carried by city police, and one was loaded with 13 rounds and the other with 16 rounds. He said each man was a wearing vest emblazoned with the word "police" and had other police-issued equipment.

Police identified the men as William Salliey Jr., 24, of the 7400 block of Tempest Court in Rosedale and Ryzele George, 25, of the 1500 block of E. Federal St. in Baltimore. Each posted $50,000 bail and was released pending trial.

The arrests early Saturday are the latest trouble for Club 410, whose managers fought at a public hearing in March 2009 to head off forced closure. Police said its patrons were responsible for a string of violent incidents, including a shooting and a gun found in a car parked near the bar, and that the club was a drain on police resources.

The manager, Tomeka Harris, a law student who represented the club at the 2009 hearing, argued that the violence outside had nothing to do with the way the club was run inside and that she held events that promoted safe sex and raised money for toy drives. But a hearing administrator sided with police, and the club was padlocked under the city's nuisance laws.

A few weeks later, federal prosecutors filed indictments against suspected gang members who authorities alleged controlled drug turf from inside their prison cells and used "Death Angels" to execute rivals. Among those charged in the case was Harris, who was linked in court documents to the Black Guerrilla Family and called a close associate of a senior gang leader. Harris remains in prison pending her trial.

The padlock order expired last month, according to authorities, but the city's liquor board ordered the owners — Andrea Huff, who works in the city's 311 call center, and Scott Brooks, a city schools employee — to surrender the license to the landlord.

Until that landlord sells the license, liquor board Chairman Stephan Fogleman said on Monday, Club 410 cannot open and sell alcohol. Guglielmi said the bar "was operating illegally as a liquor establishment."

The landlord and current holder of the liquor license is identified in liquor board records as John Zorzit. Reached by telephone Monday afternoon, he declined to comment. "I don't know anything about it," he said.

It is unclear how the club managed to reopen. Fogleman said it could become an issue when Zorzit sells the license, which must be approved by the board. Said police spokesman Guglielmi, "Somebody gave them keys to the door."

He also said there is an internal investigation to determine how the two men obtained police gear. It's possible they bought the items at a private police-supply shop.

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