Crime

Denver Revokes Liquor License of Beta Event Center

Beta has lost its liquor license.
Beta has lost its liquor license. Evan Semon
The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses has revoked the liquor license of Beta Event Center, a nightclub located at 1909 Blake Street that's currently owned by Hussam Kayali, who goes by the name Valentes Corleons. The decision follows investigations by the Denver Police Department and inspections by the Denver Fire Department.

"Mr. [Hussam] Kayali escalated disagreements during inspections into attempted intimidation of the DPD and DFD staff by declaring he was a member of the La Cosa Nostra. The Director agrees with the hearing officer’s characterization. As noted above, these actions by Mr. Kayali indicate a complete disregard for the law, and do not warrant the Director’s confidence that Respondent can be lawfully operated or in a way that will not adversely impact the health, welfare, or safety of the immediate neighborhood," Ashley Kilroy, the executive director of the Department of Excise and Licenses, wrote in a January 5 decision revoking Beta's liquor license. Kilroy's last day on the job is January 6.

The Denver Police Department began investigating Beta, a once world-renowned nightclub, back in May 2021. Cops observed that fights were common at Beta and that the club had a lax policy that allowed gang members, including ones wearing the name of a gang on their clothes, into the club.

In June, the police department conducted two undercover investigations on Friday nights at Beta. On one occasion, an undercover female detective was able to enter the club with a handgun in her waistband, despite having been searched at the door.

The city brought an administrative case against Beta two months later citing law and code violations, including hiring unlicensed security guards and allowing drinking after hours.

In two full days of administrative hearings in November, attorneys for the City of Denver and those representing the club's owner battled over the city's case. During that hearing, Corleons acknowledged that he had once told a Denver cop who was inspecting Beta that he was a "made man" in the Sicilian Mafia; Corleons denies that this was a threat.

Also during that hearing, a Denver cop testified that Corleons offered him $10,000 as a bribe to make the city's case against Beta go away. Corleons denies that allegation, too.

But the hearing officer who oversaw the administrative case — Federico Alvarez, a former Denver District Court judge — found these two allegations to be "extraordinarily aggravating," and they contributed to his recommended decision that Beta's license be revoked. Kilroy adopted Alvarez's recommendation.

Corleons hints that he's likely to challenge the decision to revoke Beta's license in Denver District Court.

"I am suing everything. I can reopen with a court injunction," he insists. "We're going to the Supreme Court."

But he also says he wonders if it's worth it to keep fighting: "It's impossible to win with the city. ... The thing is, there are a lot of haters here."
click to enlarge Valentes Corleons inside Beta. - EVAN SEMÓN
Valentes Corleons inside Beta.
Evan Semón
The decision by the city to remove the club's liquor license caps off an absolutely terrible five days for Corleons. In the early-morning hours of January 1, a shooting inside the Cabin Tap House, a club he owns that's right next to Beta, left two dead and two injured. Later that day,  the Department of Excise and Licenses ordered a temporary suspension of Cabin's liquor license, a rare move that the city only reserves for extreme situations. As a result, Cabin will remain closed until an administrative-hearing process plays out. Corleons also closed Beta in the aftermath of the shooting.

After the city shut down Cabin, Corleons said that he would not reopen either club even if he could, and that he planned to sell both. Corleons is also leasing the building that previously housed El Chapultepec, but the bar he planned to open there has been held up because of city inspections.

With his nightclub empire now crumbling, Corleons has started suggesting that he'll move out of Colorado, potentially to Sicily, where he says that he's originally from, or to Miami.

"When I was in Miami, I went to Excise in Miami and they give a second chance when the license is revoked. That's an option," Corleons says.

Even if Beta and Cabin remain closed and he's gone, Corleons guarantees that problems in this section of LoDo will remain.

"I'm going to prove to people that I wasn't the issue," he says. "Mark my word and see how many shootings are going to happen, because the people are bad." 
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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.