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Published: Sunday, 1/14/2001

E. Toledo bar faces license loss

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Crowds cheer wildly during a 1999 concert at the Main Event in East Toledo on Main Street. Crowds cheer wildly during a 1999 concert at the Main Event in East Toledo on Main Street.
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A well-known East Toledo night club could be shut down this spring, depending on the outcome of 34 charges that liquor control agents issued against the establishment Friday night.

Citations were issued against the liquor permit held by MDV Enterprises, Inc., for the Main Event, 137 Main St. - a club that has fallen into disfavor with Toledo city officials because of complaints ranging from excessive noise to public urination.

The charges are the result of a four-month investigation by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Toledo police, and the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Liquor Control.

Charges relate mostly to club ownership and allegations of underage drinking.

Earl Mack, who supervises the state public safety department's liquor enforcement in the Toledo area, said yesterday that authorities have compiled evidence that Robert Croak, the Main Event's operator, is actually the club's owner.

The Main Event's liquor permit lists Gregory McElroy of Maumee as the owner. Mr. Croak appears to have used Mr. McElroy to conceal the true identity of the owner, according to Mr. Mack.

“The evidence shows Croak is the real owner,” Mr. Mack said.

Mr. Croak was notified of the charges at 11 p.m. Friday, and arrested on two outstanding warrants: allowing underage consumption of beer and keeping a place where alcohol is sold or furnished in violation of law, according to a statement issued by Mr. Mack's office.

Mr. Croak was released from custody about 1:30 a.m. Another employee is being sought on an outstanding warrant for sales of alcohol to an underage person, the statement said.

Charges against the establishment's liquor permit include 30 counts related to ownership.

There were 10 counts each of allowing others to operate permit premises, not owner or operator, and failure to disclose true ownership of permit, Mr. Mack said.

Four other charges were filed: Sales of beer to an underage person, allowing underage consumption of beer, hindering or obstructing inspection, and permit not posted, he said.

A hearing on the charges is likely in March or April in Columbus in front of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, an agency empowered to suspend or revoke the club's liquor permit, as well as issue fines.

“These charges are extremely serious. They could lose their permit privileges, period,” Mr. Mack said.

He said the charges are civil in nature, and that investigators will ask the Lucas County prosecutor's office to file criminal charges.

Mr. Croak declined yesterday to discuss the ownership of the Main Event and its liquor permit.

“No matter what I say, the truth is not going to come out. That's why I am not going to comment,” Mr. Croak said.

Mr. McElroy was in Florida and unavailable for comment.

In December, Toledo city council affirmed its opposition to having the state renew liquor permits for the Main Event and a tavern across the street, known as Club 128. The latter is at 128 Main.

Police asked council members to object to the permit renewals because of a number of complaints logged in 1999, including those related to thefts, noise, public urination, trash, and criminal damaging.

Both permits expired May 31. Permit-revocation hearings were scheduled for Jan. 3, but the Main Event's was postponed because the hearing for Club 128 lasted more than two hours.

It could not be determined yesterday whether the Main Event's revocation hearing has been re-scheduled.

The Main Event, Club 128, and another nearby establishment - Frankie's Inner-City Lounge, 308 Main - are part of the River East Entertainment District and are operated by Mr. Croak.

Mr. Croak holds Club 128's liquor permit through R&K Entertainment, Inc., of which he is president.

Councilman Robert McCloskey, who lives in the district where the clubs are, was unsuccessful in his bid to persuade a majority of councilmen to withdraw their objections to the pair of permit renewals.

Mr. McCloskey spoke in defense of Mr. Croak, at one point even vowing to support him at the hearings.

The councilman changed his mind after a Dec. 28 stabbing outside Frankie's.

In that incident, an East Toledo man had to be hospitalized because he was stabbed in the abdomen, according to police.



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