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Club Owner Wins Battle with ABC

The Ex-Clubs investigation resulted in a multijurisdictional grand jury and the subsequent drug-related arrests of nine individuals. Nearly half of them were acquitted.

Defense attorney Paul Buckwalter, who represents Fahrenheit and its owner Ted Kastanos, argues the real targets of the sting were not individuals but the clubs themselves.

Through a series of ABC hearings, agents and officers maintained that Fahrenheit had become a "meeting place" for drugs and said the club's liquor license should be forfeited. Fahrenheit kept its license while it appealed its case to Richmond Circuit Court.

Markow's decision is the first time in recent years that a judge has thrown out a case proffered by the ABC. "It is very unusual that he stepped in and threw it out," says Buckwalter. Buckwalter says Markow determined the ABC investigation had been compromised because a government agent was sent into Fahrenheit to solicit drugs.

"This proves that Fahrenheit is vindicated of all charges and that the owners have done everything any reasonable owner would have done" to keep drugs away from their clubs, Buckwalter says.

It also clears the way for Fahrenheit to sue the ABC in civil court, and Buckwalter predicts the owners will do so.

A representative with the ABC could not be reached by press time.

Buckwalter says Fahrenheit's case means other clubs in similar investigations by the ABC should stand firm and fight. It's taken more than a year for the case to be heard in court and resolved, but Buckwalter says his client Kastanos thinks it has been worth the effort. He adds, "I don't think he can stop grinning."

— Brandon Walters

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