"As far as I'm concerned, counsel, we are going to start from square one," Faragher said, before conferring with attorneys representing Beta, its landlord and the City of Denver, and then settling on January 13 as the date for the new hearing.
The abrupt interruption of the proceedings was the result of an apparent oversight on the part of the Denver City Attorney's Office. In mid-September, lawyers from that office had filed a complaint and a motion for a temporary restraining order to shut down Beta, which is owned by Valentes Corleons (legal name Hussam Kayali). The claims in the public-nuisance case involve three alleged offenses that took place at Beta, though they were not linked to club employees: a cocaine-dealing charge, an imitation drug-dealing charge, and an unlawful weapon possession charge. In the actual complaint, however, the City Attorney's Office only included the cocaine-dealing and unlawful weapon possession charges, and left off the imitation drug-dealing charge.
As Chris Gaddis from the City Attorney's Office began to question his first witness, a Denver police officer who'd done an undercover investigation at Beta, in relation to the imitation drug-dealing allegations, Harvey Steinberg, the attorney representing Corleons and Beta, along with his colleague Aaron Acker, objected to the line of questioning, stating that the specific allegation wasn't in the complaint. Gaddis asked the judge if he could amend the complaint on the spot, since the City Attorney's Office wanted to include the imitation drug-dealing charge in its case. But Judge Faragher rejected Gaddis's request, saying that while city attorneys could amend the complaint, they'd need to reschedule the hearing so that defense lawyers could prepare. And owing to a busy docket that includes a significant backlog of eviction cases, the first available date was in January.
Even though the judge had granted the city's temporary restraining order motion to shut down Beta in late September, the club remains open, since Acker filed a motion to vacate the temporary restraining order on October 11. The November 12 hearing was supposed to settle the competing claims between the two sides, but now that's been postponed for another two months.
Beta is also facing a challenge on another front: In August, the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses filed a Show Cause case against Beta, and is seeking to revoke the venue's dance cabaret and tavern license over alleged law and code violations, including employing unlicensed security guards. Excise and Licenses has a combined sixteen-hour hearing scheduled across November 17 and 18 for that case.
In an opening statement at the November 12 hearing, Gaddis tore into Beta, which had become known as a "gang bar," he said.
"The threat to public health, safety and welfare is very real in this case," he added. "The 1900 block of Blake Street is flat-out dangerous and deadly in the early-morning hours, mostly attributable to this nightclub."
Gaddis then referenced past issues involving other clubs that Corleons has operated. "Where he goes, these safety issues just followed," he said.
Corleons, who attended the hearing, denies that he's in any way responsible for the alleged violations cited in the public-nuisance case, and says he feels confident that he'll win the case.
"This is my passion," he adds. "I love to see people happy, dancing. The reason I want to have a nightclub is not about money. I never did it for money. I do it for passion, so people can escape from stress."
Corleons is hopeful that the city will come around and agree to a settlement that doesn't require the club to close. "My grass is too tall?" he concludes. "Let me just cut it."