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Madam’s Organ Sues ABRA, Claims Agency Filed ‘False’ Reports

by Tim Regan March 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

Madam's Organ, photo via flickr/Adam Fagen(Updated at 1:12 p.m.) An Adams Morgan bar is suing D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration over what it calls “false” reports by agency investigators, it announced today.

Madam’s Organ at 2461 18th St. NW claims the ABRA officials made the inaccurate reports during an investigation last September. The bar “seeks to recover damages for defamatory statements” made by those investigators, according to a complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court earlier this month.

D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board recently held a hearing to determine whether Madam’s Organ “interfered” with that investigation, an apparent dispute over whether the bar had exceeded its allowed capacity on Sept. 5, 2015.

“After many years of repeated harassment over capacity issues that were settled definitively in the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2008, D.C. ABRA investigators and their supervisor on Sept 5, 2015 finally, definitively violated the law and were caught on video . . . asking MPD to arrest a Madam’s Organ doorman for not allowing them access,” Madam’s Organ owner Bill Duggan said in a statement.

During the investigation, an ABRA official approached the bar and tried to gain entry without displaying identification, according to the complaint. The investigator was filmed by two security cameras before finally identifying himself and interacting with a Madam’s Organ doorman for “approximately two seconds” and entering the bar, the court filing says.

Three investigators later said they saw the doorman “physically [block] the way of an ABRA investigator” and, despite video evidence to the contrary, called the police, according to the complaint. The doorman was not arrested during the incident.

ABRA did not ask for the video, “knowing full well that [it] would contradict their version of the events,” the complaint adds.

The full investigation report, obtained today by Borderstan, tells a slightly different story. According to that report, the doorman “recognized the investigators as they walked up to the establishment, and announced that ABRA had arrived into his radio.” When an investigator flashed a badge and tried to enter the bar, the doorman “was walking backwards, with his chest against [the investigator]” despite repeated attempts to move out of the way.

Though the doorman later apologized to the investigators, according to the ABRA report, an investigator called the police to report “that the establishment interfered with and impeded an ABRA investigator by not allowing [their] unimpeded entrance to the establishment.”

Read Duggan’s full statement below:

After many years of repeated harassment over capacity issues that were settled definitively in the DC COURT of APPEALS in 2008, DC ABRA investigators and their supervisor on Sept 5, 2015 finally, definitively violated the law and were caught on VIDEO doing so…..asking MPD to arrest a Madam’s Organ doorman for not allowing them access…..and would have had the individual jailed if MPD had not refused to do so……..but ABRA proceeded with the case before the ABC Board on March 9, 2016….when two investigators committed perjury and the Attorney General argued vigorously to keep the incriminating evidence caught on three cameras from being admitted as evidence…but the video evidence was admitted….and still the outcome is far from certain because the DC ABC Board for all intents and purposes acts as a rubber stamp for the AG’s office.

Madam’s Organ has filed this action because we feel that there is no true justice for any business that comes before the EXTREMELY unprofessional, volunteer ABC Board, where the ONLY requirement to serve is, not knowledge of the law, not knowledge of the industry they regulate…but only “knowledge of the adverse effects of alcohol”

We feel that, as was proven by the 2006-08 appeal of the ABC ruling to the DC Court of Appeals; the only chance for justice is before a legitimate court with a true judge and jury….not before an ABC Board that acts as judge and jury….but without the legal training to do so.

Both the D.C. Attorney General and ABRA declined to comment further.

Photo via flickr/Adam Fagen

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