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Lupo's Says Diesel's Problems Are Separate

PROVIDENCE (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) – According to the Providence Journal Rich Lupo, of Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, said his concert venue is being unfairly dragged into the Board of Liquor Licenses' hearing on Club Diesel.

The city is seeking to revoke Club Diesel's licenses, calling it a "disorderly house."

Lupo's shares space with Club Diesel. On nights when both establishments operate, Lupo's concerts end around 10 p.m., the club empties, and Diesel patrons are allowed in.

At a hearing earlier this month, a nearby resident testified that concert-goers have harassed her, and a downtown businessman said the bands' tour buses are a nuisance.

"Suddenly, these things had to do with Lupos," Rich Lupo said outside the hearing room yesterday

Senior Assistant City Solicitor Kevin F. McHugh has said from the beginning that Lupo's and Club Diesel operate on the same license, and if Diesel's license is revoked, Lupo's would be shut down as well.

But Lupo and his lawyer, Stephen M. Litwin, said the concert promoter has the right to defend himself against accusations.

"We know we share the fate," Lupo said, "but it was made clear from the beginning that no one had a problem with Lupo's or our activity."

The hearing churned slowly yesterday. Police Maj. Paul Fitzgerald, the patrol commander, said that he was responsible for "getting the ball rolling" to revoke Club Diesel's licenses. Fitzgerald said he was concerned about the amount of police manpower needed at the club, but he said his principal concern was "the level of violence."

Fitzgerald's testimony stalled when lawyers for Club Diesel asked him to produce the written reports for 68 arrests that he said had occurred at Diesel during the past three years.

McHugh argued that the Diesel lawyers already had the documents among a stack of hundreds of incident reports, but McHugh eventually handed them over. The hearing was further delayed as Fitzgerald sorted out the proper arrest reports and the Diesel lawyers organized them into chronological order.

Diesel lawyers Dennis McMahon and Edward John Mulligan then took several minutes to read through each report and question Fitzgerald. McMahon said they had not seen some of the reports.

The lawyers' cross-examination of Fitzgerald — as with other witnesses — continually challenged whether the incidents were directly linked to the nightclub.

A report about an underage drinking arrest did not specifically say the arrest occurred inside Diesel. Fitzgerald pointed out that the arrest location was 79 Washington St., Diesel's address.

The lawyers read through the next report as Fitzgerald and the board waited. The report described the arrest of someone who threw a cigarette at a police officer, but again, it did not specifically say it was a Diesel patron. It stated that the officer was on crowd-control duty outside The Strand, the building that houses the Club Diesel.

The proceedings paused again as the lawyers read the next report. It described an incident in which a young man was arrested for disorderly conduct after Club Diesel refused to admit him.

"He was not a patron of Diesel, was he?" McMahon asked.

"He wanted to be a patron of Diesel," Fitzgerald responded. "He was there because of Diesel."

"This arrest had nothing to do with Diesel," McMahon said.

"No, I disagree," Fitzgerald said. "You are responsible for the crowd that you draw."

"No we're not, major," McMahon said. "We are responsible for patrons who are inside and, according to Rhode Island law; we are responsible to patrons who exit our club. We are not responsible for patrons who are walking down the street knocking on doors trying to get in."

Liquor board chairman Andrew J. Annaldo struck the statement from the record, saying it was argumentative.

The Diesel lawyers read the next report and starting asking questions about a double murder outside the club, but Annaldo halted the painfully slow proceedings and asked the Diesel lawyers to read the reports overnight and continue their questioning today.

"We could be here for hours," Annaldo said.