An illegal nightclub in Bolton, The Hideaway Lounge, is in the crosshairs of a civil action initiated by the District Attorney, County Sheriff, and NC Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE).
Judge Douglas Sasser presided over a hearing in the Columbus County Courthouse Friday morning against John Freeman, the property owner where The Hideaway Lounge is located.
Freeman agreed to a six-page consent order, stipulating to cease all nightclub operations on the property by banning alcohol possession, prohibiting business there between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and barring any "adult establishment, topless bar, lounge, nightclub, private bar, bar, dance club, disco, game room, concert venue, or similar business."
The Hideaway Lounge has a troubled history, including shooting murders in 2011 and 2017. Neighbors have described the property where The Hideaway Lounge is said to exist as "loud," "disrespectful," and "trouble."
“You have a place where (hundreds of people) can gather at one time, then you have alcohol, and you have drugs. Then it constitutes an environment for violence," said Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher.
During an investigation, the SBI found 18 television sets, several cash bars, a lot of alcohol, a stripper pole, hot tubs, a full kitchen, and a recording studio.
DA: SBI found 18 television sets, multiple cash bars, lots of alcohol, light poles, hot tubs, and a full kitchen. This environment would attract “hundreds of people” @wectnews— Ben Smart (@BenSmartWECT) January 12, 2018
"Moving forward there will be zero tolerance for any type of violations on this property,” District Attorney Jon David said after the hearing.
DA: the consent order has restrictions and Da Wants to give Freeman the opportunity to keep his property. He is open to modifications if Freeman follows orders in the future @wectnews— Ben Smart (@BenSmartWECT) January 12, 2018
During Friday's hearing, Freeman verbalized an understanding of the agreement, so it was signed and Sasser officially approved the order.
Freeman and his lawyer, Matthew Tedder, declined to speak to WECT as they were leaving the courthouse.
Law enforcement unsuccessfully tried to shut down the illegal club in 2011. The legal action this time was made public by the District Attorney late last year and includes assistance from ALE's full-time nuisance abatement unit.
"Following that (deadly shooting in 2011), Sheriff Hatcher and I met with the then property owners and served upon them a letter, that basically said we are aware there is a problem on their property, and asked them to be better moving forward," David said.
This time, law enforcement is acting with more force.
"If the public becomes aware - anybody in the community - that there is a violation upon this property, we encourage you to call law enforcement, and it will be aggressively dealt with," David said.
DA: hideaway Lounge “died down” then John Freeman took over and it started back up. DA found out about parties through social media @wectnews— Ben Smart (@BenSmartWECT) January 12, 2018
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