New Orleans Club Promoters Convicted of Running a 'Crackhouse'
Sunday, June 17, 2001Two of the three managers of the State Palace Theatre, New Orleans have agreed plea bargains with Federal authorities, which has led to their venue, the New Orleans Barbecue, Inc. being convicted of ³operating a crackhouse¹. As part of the deal, the two managers, brothers Robert and Brian Brunet will escape any jail time. ³The precedent is set - one count of Operating a Crackhouse against a corporation,² a spokesperson from the EMDEF (electronic music defence fund) said. ³Rave promoters around the country will be looking closely at the injunction that went along with the settlement. The injunction prohibits the use of glow sticks, pacifiers, Vick's Va-po-rub, masks, chill rooms and other items the DEA is calling (drugs) paraphernalia.²
While the two brothers accepted the new plea bargain, third defendant Donnie Estopinal declined and still risks being indicted by a grand jury (which could lead to a 20 year plus prison sentence if he¹s convicted). EMDEF will be continuing to support Donnie¹s case, and said in a subsequent statement that they¹re still seeking financial contributions to help fight Donnie¹s case.
³EM:DEF has sent a clear message to the DEA that Electronic Music events will not tolerate being singled out in their growing war on so called ŒClub Drugs¹,² they said. ³Clearly use of these drugs is a society-wide problem, and the government's attempt to lay the blame on raves or nightclubs is rising. Furthermore, their incentive to pursue nightclubs because of the lucrative asset seizure laws is now in the open. EM:DEF will continue to monitor activity with the federal government's use of the crack-house law against promoters and venue managers.²
The asset seizure issue refers to the case of two more prominent US promoters also facing charges under the crack-house laws. Patrick and Thurston Pfeffer from the nationally recognised Florida venue Club La Vela, face Crack-house charges and an additional Criminal Forfeiture Claus by a new Federal Grand Jury, in a similar case to the New Orleans situation. Club La Vela was the official headquarters of MTV¹s Spring Break in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and continues to host huge televised events including the Baywatch Talent Search. More clubs are almost certain to be targeted by the DEA, as their crackdown against venues playing electronic music escalates.
http://www.emdef.org/cases.html (more information on the Club La Vela case)
http://www.drugpolicy.org (the Lindesmith Center)
http://www.aclu.org/forfeiture (US Civil Liberties Union on cops and asset seizure)