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Babes N’ Beer a “Hotbed of Vice”; Ready to be Shut Down for Prosties, Drugs, Illegal Liquor

Tarzana- The Tarzana bikini club where a dancer was critically burned last week had become host to a range of alleged criminal activity, including prostitution, drugs and illegal alcohol sales, according to city officials, public records and bar employees.

City officials and police officers are now compiling evidence regarding Babes N’ Beer to fuel a new effort to shut the bar down.

Just two days before the attack on 27-year-old dancer Roberta Abdue Dos Santos Busby of Simi Valley, city officials cited the club for selling alcohol without a license and gave it 15 days to stop or begin steps toward obtaining a permit, according to city Building and Safety records.

On the evening of the attack – during the club’s “Wine Wednesday” promotion in which wine was offered at half-price – the two suspects were inside and drinking alcohol, according to two club employees who spoke in separate interviews.

Police on Monday arrested the suspects sought in the attack, Rianne Celine Theriault-Odom, 27, of North Hollywood and Nathaniel Marquis Petrillo, 22, of Reseda.

They say the two doused Busby with gasoline and torched her just outside the entrance to the bar Feb. 5. She suffered burns over 40 percent of her body and remains in critical condition.

But Babes N’ Beer, city officials said, should not have been selling alcohol because the license issued to the previous owner had been surrendered to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in 2001.

The new club owners, who took over in early 2008, had not properly reapplied for approval to sell alcohol, officials said.

Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine [pictured] said information from Building and Safety officials and other documentation have led him to conclude that the club appears to have been the home of criminal activity that may have included prostitution and drugs.

“I had no idea they were still in business at that location. … We have a nuisance there and need to abate it,” said Zine, a retired city police officer.

Prostitution appears to be so rampant at Babes N’ Beer that numerous YouTube videos have been posted detailing the escapades of alleged pimps standing in front of the club and boasting of their exploits at the club they call their “office.”

In one video, a sexily dressed woman can be seen handing money to a man who appears to be her pimp, who counts the wad of bills and then proudly announces to the camera: “That’s prostitute money. … I’ll put it with my weed money, … my shoe money.”

Zine, who had waged a decade-long campaign to close the forerunner of the club, a nude bar called the Frisky Kitty, said he has turned over to the vice squad evidence of possible violations that have occurred there.

LAPD vice officers said they are collecting complaints and arrest reports and interviewing neighbors and senior lead officers to present to the City Attorney’s Office a recommendation to close the club permanently.

LAPD Detective Eric Moore, a vice squad supervisor, said police have found condoms in the club’s parking lot and have cited people for fighting, loitering and urinating in public.

“I’m going to recommend formal abatement,” Moore said.

The Feb. 6 citation from Building and Safety stems from an ongoing probe that included visits to the club by investigators from that department and LAPD vice officers, Zine said.

Zine said he thought the club at 18454 W. Oxnard St. had been put out of business when the Frisky Kitty closed last year.

But the club reopened under a new name as a bikini bar with different ordinances with which it had to comply.

An attorney for the longtime owner of the Frisky Kitty, Majid Ahmadi, said his client no longer owns the club and identified the new owners as Oxnard Hospitality Enterprise.

The club owners listed in the city’s complaint – Charles Parnes of Studio City and Michael Ayaz and Elias Laty of Santa Ana – did not return calls seeking comment.

The city’s citation to the owners was for “failure to obtain the required conditional use approval from the Department of City Planning to allow the sale of alcohol after the premises had discontinued the sale of alcohol and was operating as (an) Adult Cabaret for a period of more than a year.”

Building and Safety spokesman Bob Steinbach said the order to comply stems from the Babes N’ Beer Sports Bar’s failure to reapply for a liquor license that it had surrendered to the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control in 2001 when it chose to operate as a strip club.

By law, clubs featuring nudity cannot serve any alcoholic beverages and can only offer nonalcoholic beers, soft drinks, and fruit drinks.

Bikini bars can serve alcohol but, Steinbach said, the Babes N’ Beer owners failed to apply to the city for temporary approval that would allow them to sell alcohol while waiting for a new, permanent state liquor license.

Club owners were given 15 days to comply. The club, however, has been closed since the attack on Busby, Steinbach said.

The bar had become a haven for what one employee called a “criminal element” since late last year, when owners turned operations over to new management, with pimps and their prostitutes allegedly becoming welcome fixtures and driving away former longtime customers, according to two employees at the club.

“The club had become little more than a brothel,” said one dancer.

Theriault-Odom and Petrillo were arrested at a motel on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood in a joint operation between Los Angeles police and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Investigators said tips from cooperative witnesses helped lead police to Petrillo and Odom-Theriault. The case will be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for the filing of criminal charges.

Both suspects have criminal records, and Petrillo had been released two weeks prior to the attack after having served a fraction of his one-year term for methamphetamine possession.

Police say they still do not know why the two suspects allegedly attacked Busby.

Two bar employees blamed the club for not having a security guard on duty the night of the incident.

“They stopped having a security guard except for two or three nights a week,” said one of the dancers.

Both women said they were confident the management of the club was aware of the criminal element. Both requested anonymity because they were fearful for their safety from club patrons.

“They couldn’t help but see what was going on,” said the second dancer, referring to the management. “There were more fights among customers, and the pimps made no secret about telling someone, ‘This is my ho.'”

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