City Attorney Mike Feuer flanked by LAPD Hollywood's Senior Lead Officer Ben Thompson (l) and Captain Steve Lurie.
LOS ANGELES – In an effort to ensure greater public safety in Hollywood, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today the filing of 60 criminal charges against the owners and operators of Project Los Angeles, L’Scorpion and the recently closed Rusty Mullet in the Hollywood Entertainment District. This deepening clampdown on nightspots over alleged security breakdowns, lack of valid licenses and excessive noise follows significant fights, stabbings and a murder, increased calls to LAPD Hollywood and inspections by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), LA Department of Building and Safety and the LA Planning Department.
"We allege these clubs have put their customers, and everyone in the vicinity, in potential danger every single night. Club owners and operators are obligated to take appropriate security measures and adhere to the terms of their permits. When we believe they haven't, we'll take forceful action," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.
"Public safety is one of my top priorities in office, and entertainment venues in Hollywood will be held accountable for violating City codes that endanger the public," said Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, who represents the 13th District on the Los Angeles City Council. "I’m happy to see the City Attorney take punitive steps against non-compliant operators in my district, especially those who disobey laws that protect minors. This should serve as a warning to others that bad behavior will not go unpunished."
Today’s prosecutions come on the heels of similar action taken in recent months against alleged problem Hollywood nightclubs Playhouse, Paloma, Liaison and Delicious Vinyl restaurant.
The owners and operators of Project Los Angeles, at 6356 Hollywood Boulevard, have been charged with 18 criminal counts – seven related to security guard issues, three counts of improper lighting and two counts of admitting minors. The first set of charges arises from an August 2, 2018 inspection wherein operators were cited for guards without identifying insignia, guards without proper ID and insufficient exterior lighting where ID’s are checked. Operators were again cited for lighting issues on September 5, 2018. On January 5, 2019, the operators were cited for additional security concerns. On February 16, 2019, an undercover operation allegedly observed two minors entering after security failed to check their ID’s. On April 20, 2019, operators were again cited for insufficient exterior lighting and security without proper equipment.
Project Los Angeles also allegedly was the scene of a large fight involving numerous patrons on October 27, 2018. Officers responded and needed backup from several LAPD units. The crowd would not disperse and officers had to form a skirmish line and use physical force, including baton strikes. Three suspects were arrested for resisting arrest and battery of an officer.
On March 15 of this year, security attempted to remove an intoxicated female patron. She pulled a knife on the guard and a scuffle ensued on the sidewalk. The security guard was allegedly not in a uniform in violation of the establishment’s permit. A male passerby saw the scuffle and intervened, striking the security guard. The struggle continued, resulting in the security guard being stabbed before officers could arrive. The woman was taken into custody.
The owners and operators of L’Scorpion, at 6679 Hollywood Boulevard, have been charged with 20 criminal counts, including six charges of operating without valid permits, three counts related to inadequate security and three related to excessive noise. Inspections occurred on October 11, 2018, January 17 2019 and April 19, 2019 and allegedly revealed that their permit to operate had expired in 2017 and despite numerous warnings, they hadn’t applied for a renewal. Operators had also allegedly illegally modified the space for live music and maintained these modifications despite citations from LAPD and orders to comply from Building and Safety. Live performances are prohibited under their permits. Additionally, operators allegedly failed to maintain security camera footage for the period required by permits.
The owners and operators of the recently closed Rusty Mullet, which shares a subdivided lot with L’Scorpion at 1708 North Las Palmas Avenue, have been charged with 22 counts including six related to security guard inadequacies, seven of operating without valid licenses and three for operating as a nightclub instead of as a restaurant. On January 17, 2019, an inspection allegedly revealed an insufficient number of security guards, no electronic ID verification systems and no food service, all in violation of permits. Citations were also issued for operating without a valid permit. LAPD Hollywood officers returned on March 17, 2019 and again cited the location for no food service and expired permits. On May 9, 2019, officers allegedly found insufficient security, no ID verification system and expired permits. On June 7, 2019, officers allegedly observed insufficient security and security out of uniform. Additionally, officers allegedly observed people loitering at the same location of a 2016 murder without security doing required patrols or instructing the group to leave.
Between January 10, 2014 and April 29, 2016, 94 citations were issued at Rusty Mullet for operational violations and 212 arrest charges were submitted for alcohol related crimes, resulting in additional restrictions on the operational permits which were imposed in 2016. In 2016, a group of people was allegedly permitted to loiter near an open air portion of the space in violation of the permit. A fight broke out which resulted in one of them being stabbed to death.
Previously a 27-count case was filed against Liaison nightclub 1638 North Las Palmas Avenue and its operator William Ahders, arising from public nuisance activity. On April 20, 2018, defendant entered a guilty plea to three counts and was placed on a 2 year formal diversion. 7 enumerated terms of diversion were imposed relating directly to the conduct in the case. The City Attorney’s office contends that Liaison has continued to operate in direct violation of applicable laws and the express terms of the Diversion Agreement. City prosecutors are asking the court to terminate the diversion and start sentencing.
Neighborhood Prosecutor Ethan Weaver, who works with LAPD Hollywood, is prosecuting these cases.