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translucent

Why R Hartford clubs closed by court order?

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I just noticed that the major Hartford clubs had notices posted on their doors stating that they have been closed until further notice as a result of being a "public nuissance." Is this because of that kid dying recently or is something else up?

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This will help explain why...read article

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this is the article in today's paper...read.

Friday, January 19

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Lights Out At Rave Clubs

By TINA A. BROWN And MATT BURGARD

The Hartford Courant

January 19, 2001

A man's boast that he was pushing 10,000 Ecstasy pills a

week in Hartford and his claim that he paid a club owner

$1,000 a week to be the nightspot's exclusive Ecstasy

supplier gave police the link they needed to temporarily shut

down a segment of Hartford's night life.

Federal, state and local

officials closed a bar and

two after-hours rave

clubs in downtown

Hartford Thursday and

announced that they had

made eight arrests

during a 10-month

undercover operation.

Officials said owners and

managers of the

downtown bar Velvet and

two all-night,

non-alcoholic rave clubs, System and Vibe, knew of and

condoned the open sale and use of Ecstasy and "special k"

at their businesses.

Outside System Thursday, Chief State's Attorney John M.

Bailey said the party is over for the popular rave clubs that

traffic in drugs that cost 22 cents per pill to make, but are

sold for $20 or more each.

"I don't care about the dancing all night. But I do care about

the selling of Ecstasy,'' Bailey said.

The blatant use of drugs inside the clubs became so

frequent over the past 10 months, court records say, that

ambulances were called eight times to deal with overdoses,

seizures and intoxication. Club bouncers used to laugh at

those who'd gotten too high. And club employees were left at

the end of the night cleaning vomit from the bathroom floors

of the non-alcoholic establishments.

Using an 18-month-old state law, officials obtained three

temporary restraining orders Thursday from a Hartford

Superior Court judge that closed the clubs and shut off their

water and power. The closures will remain in effect at least

until the owners can argue at a hearing set for Tuesday that

the businesses did not encourage or participate in drug

trafficking.

"The defendants are guilty of creating or maintaining a public

drug nuisance,'' the court documents said. "These illegal

activities create a clear and present danger and risk of

irreparable harm to the public health, safety and welfare," of

employees and patrons.

Undercover agents witnessed employees allowing patrons to

use aids, such Vicks Inhalers and surgical masks, to smell

menthol and electric lights to heighten their senses while on

Ecstasy. Pacifiers and lollipops were sold to curb clenched

teeth often associated with Ecstasy use. Bottled water was

sold to prevent dehydration, another possible fallout from

Ecstasy use.

The crackdown comes a week after police said they were

investigating two deaths that might be linked to Ecstasy use

in Hartford's rave scene. Jason Kratt, a 25-year-old Columbia

man, died in December after allegedly using Ecstasy and

cocaine at System. A 19-year-old Boston man died after

riding in a limo to Hartford and allegedly taking drugs at a

private rave party held in North Hartford.

Officials also

announced Thursday

that eight men have

been charged with

possessing or dealing

drugs at the three clubs

during the undercover

investigation. Those

arrests were needed

before state authorities

could convince a

Superior Court judge to

temporarily close the

clubs, using Connecticut's Nuisance Abatement Law.

One of those arrested, Edward Madrak, 25, of Lee Lane,

Ellington, allegedly sold Ecstasy to an undercover officer on

April 7 at Velvet and on April 15 and April 29 at System.

Court records show that Madrak bragged to an undercover

officer in the VIP room at System that month that he was

pushing 10,000 Ecstasy pills a week at the club. He also

said he was paying the owner of System $1,000 a week to

be its exclusive Ecstasy supplier.

In July, police charged Madrak with three counts of selling a

controlled substance - special k, or ketamine hydrochloride -

and possession of a hallucinogenic substance - Ecstasy.

Velvet, System and Vibe, formerly known as Insomnia, had

been under investigation since April by Hartford police, the

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the chief state's

attorney's office, court records show. System and Velvet are

owned by David Squillante. Eric Corey is the owner of Vibe.

None of the club owners has been charged.

Squillante's lawyer, Daniel A. Silver of New Britain, was livid

Thursday about the closing of the clubs. He said Squillante

denies any statements by dealers that he was involved in or

profited from the drug trade.

"I don't think a business should be closed based upon a

statement of a person later arrested for narcotics. Talk to me

when there is a conviction, not an arrest,'' Silver said. "How

can you blame the business when drugs are a part of

society."

Squillante is not involved with drugs in any way, Silver said.

"They took away the property rights of my client without due

process,'' Silver said. Squillante "has made every effort to

make sure that [drugs stay] out of his club."

The crowd of law enforcement officials and reporters

gathered in front of System on Ann Street Thursday

afternoon was just clearing out when the club's manager,

Rodney Motta, drove up to find out what was happening.

"Unbelievable," he said as he looked at the bright orange

stickers on the club's front doors. "I had no idea this was

coming. I think the police are playing along with the hype in

all the media. But what they're forgetting is that we're just as

aggressive in keeping drugs out of our place as they are."

Motta, who just a day before had praised his club for working

closely with police, said he will try to reopen quickly. He and

other System employees were allowed inside the premises

briefly to retrieve important items, including pouches

containing club receipts and cash.

Brian J. Woolf, the attorney for Vibe on Lewis Street, said he

is confident the shutdown will be temporary.

"We have been compliant and cooperative with authorities,

and I am optimistic the Vibe nightclub will be open for

business again next weekend," Woolf said.

Bailey said his office has talked to Woolf about the

shutdown and plans to negotiate an arrangement to allow

Vibe to reopen. He said no similar discussions have taken

place with Squillante or other representatives for Velvet and

System.

Police said Hartford's rave scene had taken off, and that

partyers from all over New England were drawn here. "We

aren't trying to stop young people from having a good time.

They can come here as long as they don't use these clubs

to do drugs," said Hartford Police Chief Bruce P. Marquis.

Two men were arrested Thursday and Madrak and five others

have been arrested and charged with possession or dealing

drugs in the clubs since April. The status of their court

cases was not available Thursday.

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"...Madrak bragged to an undercover

officer in the VIP room at System that month that he was pushing 10,000 Ecstasy pills a week at the club. He also said he was paying the owner of System $1,000 a week to be its exclusive Ecstasy supplier..."

Obviously this guy wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

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