City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Friday that his office has filed 40 criminal charges against the owners and operators of the Playhouse Nightclub in Hollywood for alleged after-hours alcohol sales, over-serving customers and lack of security.
“This latest case is part of our continuing efforts to crack down on allegedly problem nightclubs and the threat they pose to public safety,” Feuer said.
The charges come after a long history of crime at the location and multi-agency investigations over the last 10 months by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, the Los Angeles Planning Department and Los Angeles Police Department, Feuer’s office said.
The charges filed by Feuer’s office allege:
— A shooting occurred outside Playhouse in the early morning of Jan. 1, 2018, when a patron was shot in a leg, and officers discovered patrons still being served alcohol at approximately 2:45 a.m.;
— On Oct. 25, 2018, officers observed an underage patron leaving the club who was found to be in possession of an unregistered firearm; and
— Officers observed and documented numerous permit and Penal Code violations over seven inspections, and officers repeatedly warned the operators that they allegedly failed to have legally mandated security guards, failed to keep unguarded doors shut and locked, and continued to serve obviously intoxicated patrons who were over the legal limit.
Seven counts arise from the alleged failure to provide adequate security and follow proper security procedures, six from allegedly serving drinks to patrons who were obviously intoxicated, two from allegedly failing to keep an unsecured back door shut and locked and one from allowing a minor on the premises.
Charges include violations of the Los Angeles Municipal Code and the California Penal Code. Maximum penalties exceed two and a half years in jail as well as thousands of dollars in fines.
“Playhouse Nightclub has been open since 2009 and has always provided a safe environment by employing over 25 security guards and a security plan in line with other clubs in Los Angeles,” a representative of the club told City News Service.
These accusations began several months ago after the LAPD demanded that the club stop playing hip-hop and Latin music, with an officer claiming “this music brings a bad element to Hollywood,” the representative said.
“These false accusations were filed on Dec. 28th because of statute of limitations and not for reasons of safety,” the representative said. “Other than an isolated incident that happened in 2011, Playhouse has never been cited for serving after hours or serving to minors. All of the incidents have occurred outside of the facility and in parking lots not controlled by Playhouse or it’s staff.
“We believe Playhouse is being targeted and potentially racially profiled. Playhouse has always been focused on abiding the law, the safety of our patrons and respecting our community.”
According to the charges, the location and adjoined parking lot has been the site of frequent thefts, an armed robbery, and numerous assaults, including an Oct. 7, 2018, brawl involving approximately 20 intoxicated patrons that ended in a shooting.
In 2016, the City Attorney’s Office filed two cases against the operators of Playhouse for similar violations. Robert Vinokur pleaded guilty on Sept. 7, 2016, and was placed on formal diversion in which the case would be dismissed if the defendant obeyed for 12 months, and during the period of diversion, no new complaints were submitted to the City Attorney’s Office, Feuer said.