LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today that his office has filed 40 criminal charges against the owners and operators of Playhouse nightclub in Hollywood for alleged after-hours alcohol sales, over-serving customers and lack of security. The announcement follows multi-agency inspections by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, the Los Angeles Planning Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, conducted over the course of ten months.
The prosecution is the fourth in recent months against alleged problem night clubs and event spaces in the Hollywood Entertainment District. The City Attorney has taken action against owners and operators at Paloma night club, Liaison nightclub, and Delicious Vinyl restaurant and event space. The City Attorney anticipates filing additional cases against allegedly non-compliant night clubs in the coming weeks.
"This latest case is part of our continuing efforts to crack down on allegedly problem nightclubs and the threat they pose to public safety," said Feuer.
A shooting occurred outside Playhouse in the early morning January 1, 2018, wounding a patron in the leg. Officers entered the location to investigate and discovered patrons still being served alcohol at approximately 2:45 a.m. The investigation concluded on October 25, 2018, when officers observed an underage patron leaving the club who was found to be in possession of an unregistered firearm.
Over the course of seven inspections, officers observed and documented numerous alleged permit and Penal Code violations. 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. Despite these persistent warnings, the violations allegedly persisted.
The charges in this case are directly related to the long history of crime arising from this location.
Seven counts arise from the alleged failure to provide adequate security and follow proper security procedures. This location, including its adjoined parking lot, has been the site of frequent thefts, an armed robbery, and numerous assaults, including an October 7, 2018, brawl involving approximately 20 intoxicated patrons that ended in a shooting.
Six counts arise from allegedly serving drinks to patrons who were obviously intoxicated, in some cases having blood alcohol levels of over two and a half times the legal limit. Between May and October of 2018, three women reported being victims of alcohol-induced sexual assault; one woman was 20 years old at the time of the alleged attack.
Two counts arise from allegedly failing to keep an unsecured back door shut and locked and one count arises from allowing a minor on the premises. The October 25 minor in possession of an unregistered firearm allegedly was observed using this unsecured door, thereby avoiding security which would have prevented her entry.
Charges in the present case 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. The case is scheduled to be arraigned March 1, 2019.
In 2016, the City Attorney’s Office filed two cases against the operators of Playhouse for similar violations. On September 7, 2016, Robert Vinokur pleaded guilty and was placed on formal diversion in which the case would be dismissed if the defendant obeyed for 12 months. During the period of diversion, no new complaints were submitted to the City Attorney’s Office. On September 7, 2017 the case was dismissed.
Playhouse nightclub is currently facing actions by the Los Angeles Zoning Commission and the California Alcoholic Beverage Commission for persistent alleged violations of relevant permits.
Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutor Ethan Weaver is prosecuting this case.