Bars, clubs preparing lawsuit
OPERATION Dragon has been suspended until further notice after it was discovered the officials running the program may have exceeded their authority.
Legal action is being prepared against the Alcohol Beverage Control division by Attorney Randy Cunliffe who is representing Ralph Sgambelluri, the owner of Ralphy’s, and another bar owner who has asked not be identified. Ralphy’s was shut down last week Friday for about 30 minutes after an underage female entered the club.
Cunliffe said he met with the governor’s staff yesterday afternoon and was told that based on concerns expressed to them by Cunliffe and other individuals, Operation Dragon was going to be curtailed.
“The police have no authority to shut down a bar and they have no authority to ask anybody to ask for an ID. The only person who can make a determination to do a 48-hour closure is called the administrator of the ABC. And when I was meeting with the government, John Camacho thought he was the administrator and he has never ordered the closure of any establishments,” Cunliffe said, referring to the director of the Department of Revenue and Taxation.
Cunliffe also pointed out that in order to close an establishment, even for 48 hours, there has to be a sworn statement filed with ABC from one of their investigators or board members listing the violations and the witnesses as to what happened.
The lists, in turn, are submitted to the administrator who issues a 48-hour closure.
“My understanding is that this never happened. They just put a closed sign for 48 hours,” Cunliffe said, adding the closures have affected the income of club employees.
Cunliffe noted there is a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says there has to be “an idea of suspicion” before ID checks can be made. “You can’t just go into a bar and say I wanna see your ID,” he said.
With regard to the incident at Ralphy’s, Cunliffe believes the female was sent in with a false ID to entrap management.
“When management asked ABC where’s this person who is underage, they said she left. They just let her leave. We don’t even know her name,” Cunliffe said. “How can ABC make the determination if they don’t even remember the individuals involved,” the lawyer asked.
Cunliffe said the bouncer of Ralphy’s remembered the female showing a Guam ID that indicated she was 21. But when the police raided the club, she was asked for an ID and she showed a driver’s license that noted she was just 20.
Cunliffe said he was told the Governor’s Office is going to conduct an investigation into the matter. Cunliffe has also spoken to some senators to see if an oversight hearing can be held. Additionally, Cunliffe plans on meeting with attorneys of other affected clubs.