Business Government Police/Fire

Los Imperios’ Entertainment License Revoked, West Hartford Police Chief Says Violations Continue

Los Imperios, 904 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
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West Hartford Police Chief Tracey Gove informed Los Imperios Monday that the establishment’s entertainment license has not just been suspended, but will be revoked.

By Ronni Newton

In two separate letters sent to Los Imperios owner Ernesto Leon Monday, West Hartford Police Chief Tracey Gove said that the establishment’s entertainment license has now been revoked due to additional violations of the town’s entertainment ordinance, and also said that police detail will continue to be assigned because it appears to have effectively curbed the number of neighborhood complaints.

Gove suspended Los Imperios’ entertainment license on July 18, for a period of 15 days, following a July 12 hearing to discuss what police said were three violations of the entertainment ordinance, West Hartford Town Code Chapter 75, within a six-month period.

On Friday, July 21, Gove informed Leon that because Los Imperios had a DJ on Thursday, July 20, which was in defiance of the suspension, that constituted the fourth violation of the entertainment ordinance and would result in a 30-day suspension beginning Aug. 5.

Los Imperios provided DJ entertainment on both Friday and Saturday night as well, and on Monday Gove said those instances now constitute the fifth and sixth violations of the ordinance.

“On July 21, 2017, I sent you a letter informing you that you were in violation of this suspension by having DJ entertainment on July 20, 2017, and warned you that if you continued you would face revocation of your entertainment license,” Gove wrote Monday.

The 15-day suspension remains in effect through Aug. 2, but because of the notice required to be provided under the terms of the ordinance, the 30-day suspension was due to begin Aug. 5, and the revocation is effective Aug. 9.

Based on the provision of the ordinance, Los Imperios will have to wait at least 6 months before reapplying for a license.

Los Imperios is entitled to a hearing, which Gove set for Aug. 8, at 10 a.m.

“We’re going to be heard on the 8th or sometime thereafter, and it’s going to be the same argument,” Rodvald E. Jones, Los Imperios’ attorney, said Monday afternoon.

Jones still disagrees with Gove regarding the second and third violations of the ordinance which surrounded the reporting of fights that took place inside and outside Los Imperios on May 14 and May 26.

On July 18, after receiving notice of the 15-day suspension, Jones sent a letter to Gove reiterating his claim that Los Imperios “did ‘report’ the [May 14 and May 26] incidents to the police both orally and written,” and therefore was not in violation of the ordinance. Gove, however, said during the July 12 hearing about the 15-day suspension that in both the May 14 and May 26 incidents, police were contacted, but not by any representatives of Los Imperios.  Although in those cases Los Imperios cooperated with the investigation, Gove did not find acceptable the assertion by Los Imperios that there was “no time to report it.”

Los Imperios was required to meet with the Special Investigations Division staff and submit an abatement plan after the second violation. The meeting took place but Gove said to date it has not been received.

Jones said Monday that he has the plan on his desk but won’t submit it. “That’s part of the second violation, and according to my investigation Los Imperios didn’t violate the ordinance,” Jones said.

Submitting the plan “in essence would be an admission of guilt,” said Jones. “Los Imperios followed what they were supposed to do in accordance with the ordinance,” he said, referring to the reporting of the fight to the police.

While Jones said the abatement plan would not be submitted in writing, he said that Los Imperios is following it and has “implemented every one of the regulations mandated by the town.”

In his July 18 letter, Jones told Gove that the decision to suspend the business’ entertainment license was “racially motivated and in violation of my clients’ constitutional rights.” He and Leon “object vociferously to said suspension,” Jones wrote.

“Los Imperios is no longer going to permit the town to use these unjust tactics against them,” Jones said Monday. “I would like to come up with a reasonable solution for Los Imperios and its neighbors.”

Under another provision of the entertainment ordinance, police performed a four-week review of the effectiveness of the police detail assigned to Los Imperios.

In a separate letter sent Monday, Gove wrote, “On a positive note, during the last 4 weeks we are maintaining a low number of complaints from the neighborhood that I believe is the result of the extra police presence.”

Gove said that although complaints are down, issues remain, including crowds at the front door and the odor of marijuana inside on July 7, and “multiple calls regarding disturbances from patrons as they were leaving on July 14” including a report of an assault from a female patron. The scene outside Los Imperios at 1 a.m. on July 14 was videotaped by a cruiser camera, and that video was provided by police to We-Ha.com.

Gove also said that there was a noise complaint on July 20, likely because the doors were left open because the air conditioning was broken. In addition, on July 20 “there was again marijuana smoke inside the restaurant and a partially smoked marijuana cigarette was found in the area of the dance floor,” Gove said. There was also a DJ that night, even though the entertainment license was suspended.

Los Imperios is being charged $1,362 per night for the detail, two officers and cruisers, which is assigned each night that there is DJ entertainment. Los Imperios has refused the detail, and as a result has been fined $250 for each occurrence. Police have remained on the scene anyway.

“That complaint on Thursday occurred under the watchful eye of the police officers. I thought that was the purpose of the detail,” Jones said. “Apparently the disturbance occurred on [July 14] while the patrols were there.”

Jones did not indicate that Los Imperios had any plans to pay for the detail. “If we cannot manage to come together and try to devise a meaningful and reasonable solution to try to cure all of these issues, we are going to resist any of these unjustifiable requirements,” he said.

If the entertainment license is suspended or revoked, Los Imperios is still permitted to remain open and serve food as well as alcoholic beverages, but is not allowed to have a DJ or live entertainment. Jones did not say whether or not Los Imperios would continue its regular practice of having DJ entertainment on Thursday through Saturday night.

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