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Cops: Peep Booths Still in Use Though Capital Video’s License Had Been Revoked

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts – A police sergeant said in a public hearing Thursday that patrons were using video booths at the Amazing.net adult-themed store on Bridge Street as recently as yesterday, even though the store’s license has been revoked.

Mayor Charles V. Ryan, who issues entertainment licenses, said after the 90-minute hearing at City Hall he will announce Friday whether he will grant a 2008 license for the operation of the booths to store owner Capital Video Corp. of Cranston, R.I.

Ryan revoked the store’s entertainment license in November because he said lewdness and crime had occurred in the booths.

The revocation was intended to stop the use of the video booths, but the rest of the store at 486 Bridge St. was permitted to stay open. The store sells magazines, videos and sex toys. Capital Video Corp. has a business certificate from the city that is valid until Feb. 15, 2009.

Police Sgt. Norman F. Charest said he inspected the store yesterday, saw that patrons were using two of the booths and said an employee told him the booths had been in operation since she began working there in May.

Capital Video lawyer Thomas Lesser said despite Ryan’s November revocation, nothing unlawful or of a public nuisance had occurred at the store in 2007. Police and building inspector findings that led to Ryan’s revocation were based on observations made in 2006.

Improvements such as installation of surveillance cameras also have been made, Lesser said.

Lesser objected to Ryan’s decision to include in his decision about the 2008 entertainment license the information that led him to revoke the store’s previous license.

“If you’re going to include that, then you’re no longer an unbiased fact-finder,” Lesser said.

Ryan said it was appropriate to include the 2006 information to provide a history of the store’s conduct in deciding its capability to run a good business.

Lesser said if Ryan denies the license the company will appeal in Hampden Superior Court.

Capital Video opened an Amazing.net store at 135 King St. in Northampton last month after months of community debate about zoning, pornography and the prospect of increased crime in the vicinity.

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