Use permit revoked

Published 11:45 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Suffolk City Council on Wednesday revoked a conditional use permit for a public assembly on White Marsh Road after hearing evidence of a crime that allegedly occurred there on Thanksgiving night.

Boogie’s Family and Friends Outreach Organization and Lodge was stripped of the privilege to operate as a public assembly after the alleged aggravated assault, which Police Chief Thomas Bennett said resulted in injuries so serious the victim had to be transported to Norfolk for treatment.

The consideration of the revocation included a presentation from the business’s lawyer, a closed session so council members could confer with the city attorney and two other speakers whose remarks were interrupted by the mayor.

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The alleged incident occurred early on the morning of Nov. 25, according to a presentation made by Bennett. A police officer already at Sentara Obici Hospital was alerted to an assault victim who had been brought there for treatment, Bennett said.

The assault was reported at 1:02 a.m., Bennett said. Investigation revealed it had occurred about 12:15 a.m. at Boogie’s.

The problem, according to city officials, is that one of the conditions in the conditional use permit for the facility allows it to be open only until 11 p.m. on Thursday nights.

Investigation also revealed that alcohol was served without licensed security guards present, Bennett said, which violates another condition of the permit.

Bennett also alleged that Marcus “Boogie” Williams, the owner of the business, was one of the people who assaulted the victim. He was arrested Nov. 28.

“This was not a simple assault where somebody was punched in the face once,” Bennett said. He said the victim had been punched, kicked and stomped about his head, neck, eyes and abdomen multiple times.

Bennett further alleged that Williams was in violation of two more conditions that required him to be accountable for the facility and comply with all laws.

Though he didn’t speak during the hearing, Williams has said that the assault occurred much earlier in the night — within his allowed hours of operation — and that he was not involved.

But Bennett said that a police officer patrolling in the area that night observed about 30 to 40 cars in the parking lot and saw people walking back and forth between the cars and the building about 1:13 a.m.

During the hearing on the revocation, attorney Fred Taylor of Stallings and Bischoff implored the City Council to wait until the criminal charges had gone through the court system and to have a talk with Williams before deciding to revoke the permit.

“What my client was faced with tonight was nothing more than idle speculation, gossip and hearsay,” he said.

When Clinton Jenkins got up to speak after Taylor, Councilman Charles Parr questioned the legality of allowing people who did not actually witness the incident to speak.

The council went into closed session with their attorney and returned with Mayor Linda T. Johnson saying that witnesses would be allowed to speak only to the events of the night of the alleged assault.

Jenkins then began to speak and say that Williams has done many good things in the community. He was interrupted several times by Johnson banging her gavel and telling him he was out of order.

“This is not about character references,” she said. “This is about the events of that evening.”

After several similar exchanges, a police officer stopped Jenkins from speaking and asked him to return to his seat.

Williams’ wife, Patricia Williams, then came to speak and said she was there that night.

“It wasn’t like they said,” she said, before she also was interrupted from saying that Williams has done good things in the community.

Although several City Council members agreed that Williams and his family have done good things in the community — including a ham and toy giveaway last weekend — they still voted unanimously to revoke the permit.

After Vice Mayor Charles Brown seconded the motion to revoke made by Councilman Mike Duman, Brown said Williams was his friend.

“I think he wants to do us right,” he said, adding later, “we’ll all work with you as a team, and we’re going to get it right.”

Though the permit was revoked, Williams is allowed to re-apply.