The owners of a Lawrence nightclub, which is charged with violating liquor laws, presented testimony at a hearing Wednesday that contradicted statements by two law officers.
The nightclub, Pizazz, 901 Miss., is facing four charges that it served alcohol to minors, three that it served non-members and one of being open after hours.
The proceeding, which was held before a state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division hearing officer in Topeka, got under way Wednesday afternoon and will resume late next week. A date has not been set.
Ed Johnson, assistant attorney general assigned to the ABC, said Pizazz faces penalties ranging from a $1 fine to revocation of its license and the enforced shutdown of the club.
JOHNSON said Mark Stafford, hearing officer, heard testimony from an Pete Figgins, an ABC agent, and Sgt. Richard Nickle of the Lawrence Police Department, who took part in the investigations of the club. In such hearings, the hearing officer plays a role similar to that of a judge.
Nickle testified that the club was open after hours and was serving alcohol on the morning of Sept. 21, Johnson said. Figgins testified that on Oct. 17, 18 and 19, the club served alcohol to non-members and that it served alcohol to minors on Oct. 19.
Witnesses testifying for Pizazz, who included employees and patrons of the club, said that on Sept. 21, the only people remaining in the club when police entered were employees or their friends waiting for rides and that no alcohol was being served. Under Kansas law, clubs must be closed from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Johnson said Figgins and Nickle had testified that "drinks with ice in them" were on tables at the time.
PIZAZZ witnesses also denied that minors were served alcohol, but one of the ABC witnesses testified that he had seen them drinking and their identification cards showed the four to be 19 years of age. Legal drinking age in Kansas is 21.
"It boils down to a factual situation and which factual situation the hearing officer believes," Johnson said.
He said that while penalties for each violation were outlined in Kansas Administrative Regulations, they were only guidelines and that the hearing officer would decide on the penalty.
He said Pizazz would present two more witnesses when the hearing resumes.
In September, an ABC hearing officer found Pizazz had violated four liquor license regulations and ordered the club to pay a $1,000 fine and close for three days. An appeal of the fine has been postponed indefinitely.
PIZAZZ, which this week changed its name to The Power Plant, has applied to change its designation under Kansas laws from a Class B private club to a drinking establishment.
As a drinking establishment, it would not be required to sell memberships if 30 percent of the club's business was in retail food sales.
Since opening in early 1990, Pizazz had been the target of complaints from residents of surrounding neighborhoods and neighboring businesses about trash, noise and crime, including a shooting in December, which they linked to the club.