Mafia Ties, Von Miller Partying, Cocaine: Beta Liquor License Hearing Had It All

Valentes Corleons inside Beta.
Valentes Corleons inside Beta. Evan Semón
"Are you a made man in the Mafia?" attorney Aaron Acker asked client Valentes Corleons (whose real name is Hussam Kayali) during a November 18 liquor license hearing related to Beta Event Center, a nightclub at 1909 Blake Street that Corleons owns.

"I am," Corleons answered, adding that the FBI is aware of that affiliation and there's "nothing illegal" about it.

His testimony came toward the tail end of a two-day, eighteen-hour Denver Department of Excise and Licenses Show Cause hearing over Beta's liquor license; in August, the city issued the Show Cause order alleging that Beta has been the scene of multiple code and law violations.

With the hearing now over, Federico Alvarez, a former Denver District Court judge who presided over the proceedings, will issue a recommended decision, likely within a few weeks. After that, Ashley Kilroy, executive director of Excise and Licenses, will have the final say on what happens to Beta's liquor license.

The city's case revolves around a number of allegations gathered through a Denver Police Department investigation in the spring and summer, which even included undercover officers attending the club on two June weekends. One of the claims is that a patron dealt cocaine, while another cites disorderly behavior. Beta was also hit with the charge that it didn't properly post its occupancy limits, as well as a handful of other allegations.

"If you look at the totality of the incidents in this matter, we’re not talking about one fight, we’re not talking about one drug deal, we’re not talking about one weapon or one night. This is a plethora of incidents that occur over this time period that we’ve talked about," Katie Conner, a lawyer from the Denver City Attorney's Office, said during closing arguments.

Acker countered: "What I heard from the city is that because Mr. Kayali didn't run the club according to how they think is the best business practices back for two months in the summer that that's a relevant basis to discipline him in this proceeding. It's not. This is a licensing proceeding."

Corleons, who says that he was born in Sicily and was called Valentes by his mother when he was growing up, has been involved with Beta since 2019, when he came on as a partner with then co-owners Brad Roulier and Mike McCray, who had turned Beta into a legendary EDM club over the previous decade. But the partnership didn't last long; by March 2020, Corleons had acquired the remaining shares of Beta that he did not already own. And according to McCray's testimony on November 18, Corleons has not paid them the amount he owes for the club.
click to enlarge Beta remains open...for now. - EVAN SEMÓN
Beta remains open...for now.
Evan Semón
Corleons's sole ownership of Beta got off to a rocky start as the pandemic hit. In September 2020, the Department of Excise and Licenses hit Beta with a Show Cause order charging that Beta had violated COVID rules that June. The case ended with a settlement agreement between the city and Beta.

LoDo, specifically the 1900 block of Blake Street, saw a rise in violent incidents over the spring and summer of this year, including shootings. Attorneys for the city contend that some of that rise is attributable to Beta and the fact that it lets in people affiliated with gangs, who end up getting into fights. Acker, on the other hand, contends that the rising violence is a nationwide phenomenon and says that Beta has started to implement a dress code and has added stricter entry procedures to appease the city.

Beta has had some time to make changes since the city issued this most recent order. The hearing had been set for October but was postponed because of an administrative error.

While delayed, the two-day hearing on November 17 and 18 did not lack drama. A wide range of witnesses spoke, including moonlighting cops, firefighters, undercover detectives and Beta employees. While the exchange about Mafia ties was a show-stopper, the most intriguing testimony came from Adam Glasby, an officer with the Denver Police Department who worked off-duty at Beta over the summer and oversaw scheduling of other off-duty officers at the venue during that time.

During the early-morning hours of July 11, which coincided with Major League Baseball's All Star Weekend in Denver, Beta staffers shut off the music and moved out most of the patrons before 2 a.m. But after legal closing time, Glasby said, "the music started again," and anywhere from twenty to forty patrons remained in the club, up in the VIP section.

Among them were Broncos legend Von Miller, Quavo of the rap group Migos, and two Nuggets players, as well as their crews. "They’re all consuming alcohol," Glasby testified.

After witnessing this, Glasby went downstairs and told Corleons that it was illegal for patrons to consume alcohol after hours; Corleons told him that he wanted Glasby and the other cops to ask the celebrities and their friends to leave, Glasby said.

When he did just that, one of the patrons hanging out with the celebrities responded, "Do you know who the fuck we are?" Glasby recalled.

"I was like, 'I know you,' and I point to Quavo, 'and I know you,' and I point to Von Miller," Glasby recounted. Not long after, the patrons agreed to leave.

Witnesses affiliated with Beta testified that there was a major arrest happening outside the nightclub right around closing time that night involving illegal possession of a weapon, and that staff at the facility had gotten word that remaining guests needed to shelter in place. That's why these last guests were still in the venue, they contended.

The Excise and Licenses challenge is just one front in the City of Denver's fight to close Beta. Lawyers for the city filed a public-nuisance complaint back in mid-September, with an attached motion for a temporary restraining order. Although Judge Beth Faragher granted that, Acker filed a motion to vacate the temporary restraining order on October 11, so Beta has remained open since. On November 12, Faragher held a hearing in Denver County Court to judge the competing claims. After over an hour of witness testimony, the discovery of a filing error by the city led to Faragher's ordering that hearing postponed; it will start over on January 13.

That just might give Corleons time to find a way out of his current predicament. As McCray said at the hearing, "Valentes has expressed that he’d like to sell the club."

Corleons would still have a piece of Denver's nightlife action, though. He recently bought the building on Blake Street that previously held Falling Rock Tap House, and he's leased the El Chapultepec building a block from Beta, which he's turning into Cantina. Permitting issues with the city have held up that opening, he says.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.