Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Police Net 70 in Raid at Stages Minors Are Arrested at Club Run by Feds

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Police Net 70 in Raid at Stages Minors Are Arrested at Club Run by Feds

Article excerpt

Police raided a Metro East nightclub owned by the federal government and arrested about 70 people for underage drinking, authorities said Monday.

Stages, a dance club that federal authorities seized from Thomas Venezia during his racketeering trial, has remained closed since Madison police and Illinois State Police descended shortly before midnight Friday and arrested eight employees and more than 60 customers.

Madison Chief Steve Skoklo said he confiscated the liquor license during the raid, which followed orders by the City Council to investigate reports of brazen underage drinking at the club, just off Illinois Route 203 behind the Gateway International Raceway.

Skoklo and Mayor John Bellcoff, who serves as liquor commissioner, said a hearing will be set later to decide the fate of the club's license. But that may be academic, said U.S. Attorney W. Charles Grace, who disclosed the raid Monday. Grace said he had reached a tentative agreement to sell the club a week before the raid. He said he is trying to determine if the raid will affect the sale.

Grace would not comment on reports from other sources that he planned to sell the club to developers who want to raze it so they can expand the adjacent racetrack.

Grace said he and U.S. Marshal Terry Delaney had been assured by managers at the club that underage drinking was not happening on a regular basis. Delaney had taken charge of the club under a judge's order and turned day-to-day management over to some of Venezia's employees as well as new people he had hired.

Skoklo said he did not blame federal authorities for the illegal drinking because they relied on management.

Delaney has overseen operation of Stages and B&H Vending/Ace Music Co. since a federal judge seized Venezia's property, including three topless nightclubs in Washington Park. …

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