State Alcoholic Beverage Control Division officials Tuesday charged a Lawrence nightclub with seven counts of violating liquor laws, bringing to 11 the total number of violations the club has been cited for since it opened in February.
ABC Director Tom Hanna today said Pizazz nightclub, 901 Miss., was charged with four counts of allowing people under 21 to drink alcoholic beverages and three counts of allowing non-members to enter the club.
Hanna said the charges stem from an ABC investigation of the club during mid-October. He said the underage-drinking charges allege that the club allowed employees younger than 21 to drink alcohol. The other charges, he said, allege that an undercover ABC agent was not required to show a membership card and was not accompanied by a club member when he visited the club.
"ONE OF OUR agents just walked right in the front door," Hanna said.
Mike Riling, a Lawrence attorney who represents Pizazz, said he had not yet received a copy of the ABC's latest charges against the club.
However, he said he has talked to the people involved in the underage drinking charges.
"My understanding is that the people alleged to have been involved and drinking were, in fact, not drinking. . . . My understanding is they'll testify they were not drinking," he said.
Riling said he could not comment on the non-member allegations until he receives a copy of the charges.
Hanna said a hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Dec. 5 on the alleged violations.
He said the ABC has "a strong case" against the club but would not predict how severely the club would be penalized.
PREVIOUSLY, the ABC charged the club with violating four regulations related to its Class B liquor license. Hanna in September ordered the club to pay a $1,000 fine and required it to close for three days.
The owners are appealing the decision, and a hearing on the appeal is scheduled for Tuesday. The appeal will be heard by the Kansas Department of Revenue, which oversees the ABC.
This morning, Hanna said that Tuesday's charges were the "first of many" that ABC officials are planning to file against Lawrence clubs. He said the ABC has been concentrating on Lawrence taverns and clubs in response to "numerous complaints, both from the police department and citizens."
"I'll guarantee you," he said, "there isn't a day goes by we don't get calls."