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Judge denies Club Envy's motion to restore liquor license

An administrative law judge on Friday denied a motion from the owners of a Raleigh nightclub for a temporary restraining order so the club could continue to sell alcohol.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — An administrative law judge on Friday denied a motion from the owners of a Raleigh nightclub for a temporary restraining order so the club could continue to sell alcohol.

The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission on Wednesday revoked the liquor license for Club Envy, at 3201 New Bern Ave., under the agency's Last Call program.

Attorney Steven Epstein, who represented the owners of Club Envy, said on Friday that, without the license, the business will shut down, putting 65 people out of work.

All of the clubs targeted by the Last Call program can continue to operate but cannot sell alcohol.

Since last month, the ABC Commission has worked with the state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement to revoke liquor licenses at clubs in Hickory, Winston-Salem and Greensboro in addition to Club Envy. There was a pattern of violence at all four locations, ABC Commission Chairman Jon Williams said Thursday.

According to Raleigh police records, officers have been called to Club Envy and its predecessor more than 200 times since January 2009 on complaints that included two shootings, five stabbings, two strong-armed robberies, one rape, one attempted rape, 31 assaults, 10 disturbances, fighting and eight reports of shots fired.

Early Monday, Andre Dane Gregory, 26, and Lamar Antuan Harris, 26, were shot at the club. Justin Terrell Griffis, 22, of 3760 Tryon Ridge Road in Raleigh, was charged on Friday with two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shootings.

Gregory was listed in good condition at WakeMed Hospital on Friday. Harris was treated and released, officials said.

An initial investigation showed the men were involved in a fight inside the club with several Blood gang members, Raleigh Police Det. D.T. Penny said in a sworn affidavit included in the ABC Commission's court filings this week.

Epstein argued there have only been two violent incidents at the Club this year including Monday's shooting.

“It certainly shouldn’t suffice and summarily without due process, kill a licensed business and that’s what they’re trying to do here,” he said.

“We’re not taking away his right to conduct business at his location, we’re merely taking away his privilege to sell alcohol,” ABC attorney K. Renee Cowick said.

In ABC's order to suspend Club Envy's liquor license, Raleigh police and other law enforcement described conditions at the club as hazardous. Authorities are at a substantial risk when responding to the location and do not enter the establishment without sufficient law enforcement back up, the document stated.

Israel Morrow, a special agent with  Alcohol Law Enforcement, said in a sworn affidavit that he will not visit the club when it is open without backup officers due to concern for his safety.

Raleigh officials tightened some local regulations after a man was shot and killed three years ago outside the club, then known as Black Tie Nightlife. Mayor Charles Meeker and Police Chief Harry Dolan said Monday that they wanted to review city ordinances again to curb violence at the club, which sits across the street from WakeMed.

Epstein has already filed a motion for a hearing to get his client's liquor license restored.

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Ken Smith, Reporter
Greg Hutchinson, Photographer
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