The L.A. City Attorney's office today unleashed a criminal case against the owners of Hollywood's Supper Club for alleged overcrowding, fire-code violations and “life safety hazards.”
This is the wake of a tragic fire at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil last weekend that took 236 lives. The blaze was set off by a performer who used an outdoor flare in the venue as part of a show, officials said.
At Supper Club, prosecutors allege …
… operators allowed the “illegal discharge of fireworks,” according to a City Attorney's statement sent to the Weekly and other outlets.
The office singles out the night of June 17 when, it says, the venue had 1,074 patrons, nearly double its capacity, allowed illegal fireworks, used bedding for seating, had a trapeze artists swinging over an “overcrowded” dance floor, and had blocked exits.
Charged in the case are Demetri Samaha, 56, his mother, Rose Samaha, 84, and Caroline Braidi, 53, corporate officers for three entities that own the club, the City Attorney's office said.
Charges include, according to the statement:
17 criminal counts, including one count of conspiracy, two counts of allowing an excessive occupancy load, one count of illegal discharge of fireworks, failure to secure a building permit, and multiple fire, safety, and zoning code violations.
The conspiracy charge alone is worth a year in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction, prosecutors say.
The office says the club was shut down by the L.A. Fire Department for alleged overcrowding Nov. 1 and that the department had warned the venue previously that the trapeze performances and fireworks were illegal.
The venue was connected to the July, 2011 “rave riot” in which superstar DJ Kaskade tweeted that he was performing a free show on Hollywood Boulevard. Ravers rushed to the street and stood off with police into the night.
The appearance coincided with the screening of a rave documentary at Grauman's Chinese Theater. The film about the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival featured Kaskade prominently. Here's what we wrote back then:
… The venue Supperclub, which we were told is owned by the same folks who own the Chinese Theater, took out the permit for a red-carpet curbside lane-closure. And a permit service source told us that having Kaskade make a grand entrance with music and a truck was planned as early as Wednesday morning.
Michael Duddie, general manager of Supperclub, told the Los Angeles Times that he had booked Kaskade for the premier's after-party at the club that night but did not, in the Times words, “organize his film entrance.”
(So who did?).
That claim conflicts with what a Bureau of Street Services spokesman Richard Lee told us, namely that a permit for the red-carpet screening was taken out in the names of Supperclub and Kaskade (actually we were told it was spelled “Cascade”).
Our permit services source says the DJ was to be a prominent feature of the event all along.
We reached out to Supper Club's publicist but was told she no longer represents the venue. We also emailed the club for a response but had yet to hear back.
Arraignment was scheduled for March 15.
[Added at 1:20 p.m.]: We asked the City Attorney's office is the timing of the case had anything to do with the tragedy in Brazil. Spokesman Mateljan told us it was a coincidence — that prosecutors filed charges (today) …
… once we had all the information from the various City agencies as to continued failure to bring the club into compliance.