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ST. GEORGE JUDGE DISMISSES CHARGES AGAINST EX-CLUB OWNER

SHARE ST. GEORGE JUDGE DISMISSES CHARGES AGAINST EX-CLUB OWNER

A judge has dismissed charges against a former private club owner accused of doing business without a license and violating the city's beer ordinance.

The city claimed James A. Tanasse opened Chapter 11 on Aug. 6, 1993, even though the club's business and beer licenses were suspended at the time.Police officers testified that when they went to Chapter 11 on Aug. 6, they saw the private club was open and employees were serving beer to patrons.

But 5th District Judge James L. Shumate said City Attorney Gary Kuhlmann could not prove the substance was actually beer because no evidence was seized at the scene.

"If I were to allow this matter to go forward, it would be like conducting a marijuana prosecution without a chemical analysis of the material," he said.

Shumate also dismissed the charge of conducting business without a license because he said the city did not prove whether Tanasse knew his employees had opened the club.

Tanasse said he plans to file a federal lawsuit within 90 days against the city and Kuhlmann to try to recoup some of his losses.

"Basically, this had been a feeble attempt by the city to ruin our business, and they did it - they broke us," he said. "We lost everything because of this. We lost our business, our house, cars."

Prosecuting attorney Jonathan Wright said the City Council will review its ordinance to determine if amendments are needed.

Council members already approved a revised beer ordinance on Thursday abolishing limits on the number of restaurants serving alcohol but tightening restrictions for bars.

Starting July 1, the city no longer will issue Class D or on-premise beer licenses. The ordinance will allow the city only to renew licenses. That means no new bars will be able to open within city limits, Kuhlmann said.