Paying for Police Nightclub Protection?

August 27, 2008 8:24:44 PM PDT
The case of a nightclub owner who accused the Fresno police department of trying to pressure him into paying for police protection went before a judge.What is supposed to be an administrative hearing is shaping up to be a courtroom drama ... the attorney for the city, Charlotte Hilton says she will call at least nine witnesses.

Defense Attorney Ron Sawl plans at least half that many. Sawl is claiming the Fresno Police Department used other agencies, like code enforcement, as part of an effort to intimidate and coerce his client to pay for police security services.

He accused a city code officer of selective amnesia for not remembering details of a meeting between him, the club owner and police officers.

Ron Sawl:"It's your testimony that you heard Sgt. Edwards speaking, and you heard his words but you weren't paying attention to what he was saying?"

George Valdez, Code Enforcement Officer: "I recall Sgt. Edwards speaking to Mr. Ghazal, I didn't really, I heard words but I didn't really listen to the conversation."

Police deny Sawls allegations but Tuesday Police Chief Jerry Dyer said because of the appearance of improprieties officers would no longer directly offer security services to bars and nightclubs.

The hearing, which appeals the police decision to revoke Club M's license to allow dancing was continued until next week and is expected to take several days.

Fresno police officers are scheduled to be among the witnesses.

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