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Cops conducted a Prohibition-style raid on a Greenpoint watering hole — but they burst through the wrong door and forced a law-abiding business to go bottom up, according to an angry nightlife entrepreneur.
Officers were acting on a personal vendetta and violated bar owner David Kelleran’s right to due process when they poured thousands of dollars of booze down the drain at his Greenpoint Avenue bar Coco66, when it was his next-door restaurant 68 that actually had problems with its liquor license, lawyer Craig Trainor argues in his case against the NYPD.
“Clearly established constitutional rights secure our liberty against arbitrary government intrusion,” said Trainor. “The utter and complete lawlessness exhibited by the NYPD in this case shocks the conscience.”
Police said last year that they arrested Kelleran and raided Coco66 after the bar’s liquor license expired.
Trainor acknowledges that Kelleran bounced a check renewing his liquor license with the State Liquor Authority — but he insists that Coco66 had a valid license.
Instead, he claims it was 68 that had issues with non-payment.
That didn’t stop cops from entering both businesses and pouring out Kelleran’s liquid livelihood, Trainor claims.
“Parties have procedural rights,” said Trainor. “There is a seizure and voucher process. There is paperwork and numbers assigned, and property is secured and safeguarded. It is not supposed to be dumped down a drain.”
And after bouncing the check for 68’s renewed liquor license, Trainor says Kelleran should have had ten days to send in another payment.
But cops burst into the businesses after five days.
Kelleran, who is suing for unspecified damages and never managed to reopen Coco66, said last year that he did not see a warning letter from the State Liquor Authority until three days after the raid.
Trainor claims Greenpoint cops marked Coco66 as a target long before the raid — pointing to quotes by 94th Precinct deputy inspector Terence Hurson that appeared in a Brooklyn Paper article shortly after the raid and are now part of the lawsuit.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while — we’ve had noise complaints about the place,” Hurson told this newspaper after the incident.
The 94th Precinct, the NYPD’s press office, and the city’s Law Department did not respond to requests for comment.
Kelleran, who was kept in jail overnight following the raid, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct — a violation — for selling liquor without a license.
But Trainor said that plea should not effect the pending civil case.
When he spoke with this newspaper last year, Kelleran said Coco66 had made some enemies in the community.
“We don’t fit into this neighborhood — the neighborhood has Yuppified,” Kelleran said back then. “We’ve been abused. They’re trying to put us out of business. They don’t want us there.”
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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