More than a dozen owners and managers of seven nightclubs in Prince George's County were indicted on a variety of alcohol charges, licensing violations and flagrant tax evasion in what police called a continuation of the county's crackdown of violent entertainment venues.
Sixteen people, with varying roles in operating the clubs, were indicted by the Prince George's County State's Attorney's office Wednesday morning.
Charges varied wildly, from aggregate theft of more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes for the owners of Crossroads in Bladensburg, to 30 counts of perjury for Chris Everette and Ledell Southerland of Plaza 23 for lying on sworn applications for liquor licenses.
|Who was indicted?|
|Puzzles Event Center in Suitland: Terrance Devon Williams|
|De La Swan Event Atrium in Hyattsville: Delicia Ennis and Millicent Tracey|
|Let's Chat in Suitland: Yvette James, Paula James and Melvin Anderson|
|Crossroads in Bladensburg: Alton Gayles and Kevin Perlstein|
|Plaza 23 in Temple Hills: Chris Everette, Dan Richardson, Ledell Southerland and Dalion Alston|
|Black Amethyst in Temple Hills: Larry McMichael and Mercedes Harris|
|CFE Event Center in Forestville: Kevin Darby and Berinda Williams|
Owners at every location were charged with willful failure to collect and pay sales taxes.
One business, Puzzles Event Center in Suitland, even operated as an illegal strip club in the evening, investigators discovered.
Four of the clubs owe more than $700,000 to the county and state in unpaid taxes and fees, according to Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, who said audits of the businesses are continuing.
The bills owed by the nightclubs could easily top $1 million once the investigation is complete, Franchot said.
"Every dollar counts in this economy," he said.
The indictments are the latest tactic by Prince George's officials to curb violence stemming from late-night clubs and concert venues -- the County Council passed emergency legislation last summer requiring dance hall permits of venues that police said were operating illegally as nightclubs.
Two of the seven clubs -- Black Amethyst on Raleigh Road in Temple Hills and CFE Event Center on Marlboro Pike in Forestville -- already have been shut down using the council's dance hall legislation. CFE was closed in September 2011 after a nonfatal triple shooting near the club in August 2011. The owners of Black Amethyst vacated their property rather than fight the improper permit charges county officials filed against them, police said.
"Nightclubs and late-night entertainment has long been an issue in our county, and to be honest, we've been the point of least resistance in the metropolitan area," said Police Chief Mark Magaw. "In the last 18 months we've made significant strides in closing nightclubs ... That's made a tremendous difference in our county in terms of reducing violent crime."
The other five clubs remain open while some owners and managers work to comply with state and county officials to get proper licenses and pay taxes owed.
Police identified the other businesses as De La Swan Event Atrium on Ardwick Ardmore Road in Hyattsville; Let's Chat on St. Barnabas Road in Suitland; Crossroads on Baltimore Avenue in Bladensburg; and Plaza 23 on St. Barnabas Road in Temple Hills.