Venues

Hearing Officer Recommends Beta Nightclub Lose Liquor License

Beta may lose its liquor license.
Beta may lose its liquor license. Evan Semon
The hearing officer overseeing an administrative case against Beta Event Center has recommended that the City of Denver take away the liquor license of the club at 1909 Blake Street because of law and code violations.

"When [the owner's] continued operation of the club generated escalated inspections, he resorted to touting that he is an organized crime organization member as an intimidation tactic. The only reason for him to assert this status is to gain improper leverage over the City staff. It was otherwise irrelevant to their interaction. The implicit message to the staff is that they may suffer harm due to his displeasure with their regulatory actions. This tactic is serious and unacceptable, particularly for one with a cabaret license, where character and reputation is a licensing factor," wrote Federico Alvarez, a former Denver District Court judge who served as the hearing officer for an Excise and Licenses liquor license show-cause case against Beta, which was filed in August.

The owner of the club is Valentes Corleons, whose legal name is Hussam Kayali.

"I'm going to appeal, and I'm going to take it all the way," says Corleons, who has ten business days from December 8, the date of the recommended decision, to file an objection. If the objection is not sustained, then the executive director of the Department of Excise and Licenses will make a final decision on the fate of Beta's liquor license, likely sometime in January. (Ashley Kilroy, the current executive director, is stepping aside January 7.)

Alvarez's decision came after two full days of dramatic testimony in November from undercover detectives, moonlighting cops and Corleons himself.

Alvarez determined that the city had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Beta had violated laws and codes related to disorderly conduct, and consumption of alcohol after-hours — specifically by people hanging out with Von Miller, Quavo of Migos and two Denver Nuggets players — as well as employing unlicensed security guards and failing to post occupancy limits, among other violations.

But Alvarez also found that the Denver City Attorney's Office had failed to prove its case against Corleons and Beta related to permitting real and imitation drug-dealing on site, noting that "the drugs or imitation drugs involved were of a small size and easy to conceal. It is therefore difficult for anyone other than those involved to know specifically that it occurred and to stop it."
click to enlarge Valentes Corleons inside Beta. - EVAN SEMÓN
Valentes Corleons inside Beta.
Evan Semón
In making his decision, Alvarez determined that there were two "extraordinarily aggravating" factors that "weigh in favor of revocation of Respondent’s Licenses."

First, he said, "Mr. Kayali escalated disagreements during inspections into attempted intimidation of the [Denver Police Department] and [Denver Fire Department] staff by declaring he was a member of the La Cosa Nostra." Second, "Kayali attempted to bribe Officer [Adam] Glasby to influence this legal process, offering payment for assurance that things would come out right, from his point of view." Officer Glasby, who worked as a moonlighting cop at Beta over the summer, testified during the November hearing that Corleons had tried to offer him $10,000 to help resolve the city's case against Beta in his favor.

"I never said I'd give you $10,000," Corleons counters. As for claiming to be a "made man" in the Sicilian Mafia, he says, "I was introducing myself and they took it as a threat. I was telling him, 'Look, man, I'm an important guy. I'm a man of honor.'"

Corleons says that the city has targeted him because his clientele is largely Black and Latino, a charge that the city denies.

The city's case against Beta relies heavily on evidence gathered through a Denver Police Department investigation in the spring and summer, which even included undercover detectives attending the once world-renowned club on two weekends in June.

Denver also has a second front in its campaign against Beta: The City Attorney's Office filed a public-nuisance case against the club back in mid-September. The next hearing is set for January 13.
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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.