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Platinum Lounge permanently shut down

Platinum Lounge permanently shut down

Platinum Lounge permanently shut down

Capt. Tom Woodrum of the Statesboro P...

A downtown Statesboro nightclub that has been "the scene of illegal activity," including more than one shooting and a death and that has been shut down since November, will not be allowed to open its doors again, according to a court order.

Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner issued the order dated Monday, and obtained Thursday by the Statesboro Herald, permanently prohibiting Hayward Arthur Fields, the owner of Platinum Lounge, from reopening that nightclub or establishing any similar business at 2 Proctor St.

Scott Brannen, an attorney representing Fields, did not return a message left with an assistant at his office seeking comment Thursday afternoon. Fields, reached by telephone at his home Thursday, declined immediate comment but offered to meet with a reporter at a later time to reveal "the whole story."

Turner found that Fields and his business entity, HAF Enterprises LLC, "have operated or allowed the Platinum Lounge to operate in such a manner where patrons come out of this place of business fighting with and without deadly weapons, making undue noise, and littering to the disturbance of the residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity."

The judge found that the nightclub, the parking lot of which was the scene of a fatal shooting in August 2012, caused "a marked increase in crimes against property and persons" in its immediate vicinity.

He noted that several witnesses testified at a hearing in December concerning whether the Platinum Lounge should be allowed to reopen that "the noise from the amplified music played at the Platinum Lounge, as well as the noise from the patrons who loiter in the surrounding neighborhood, would continue to the early hours of the morning." The noise, these witnesses testified, "has hindered those households from sleep throughout the time Platinum Lounge has been in operation," Turner wrote.
Criminal activity "escalated over time," Turner wrote, "despite the increased efforts of law enforcement."

Platinum Lounge, Turner ruled, "constitutes a continuing public nuisance that demands abatement because the public will continue to suffer further irreparable injuries to its health, safety and welfare if the causes of this public nuisance are not abated."

Because of this, Turner ruled, Fields and HAF Enterprises are "perpetually" prohibited from operating the Platinum Lounge - or "any business that is licensed to serve alcohol for consumption on the premises; that operates a sound system that amplifies live or recorded music, or that is open for business between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m." - at 2 Proctor St.

In November 2013, law enforcement officers padlocked and chain-locked both Platinum and Primetime Lounge, at 608 Northside Drive W., just a few days after shots were fired outside both nightclubs, resulting in one death.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Nov. 10, shots were fired at the Platinum Lounge, but no injuries were reported. Some of those shots, Turner wrote in his Monday order, were fired "through a window of a nearby commercial establishment lodging a bullet into the back wall of the establishment."

About 90 minutes later, at 2:30 a.m. Nov. 10, shots were fired at the Primetime Lounge. Johnnie L. Benton, 25, of Rincon, was killed, and Jamal Heard, 21, also of Rincon, was seriously injured, police said.

On Aug. 19, 2012, a shooting at the Platinum Lounge killed Akeila Rochell Martin, 32, of Statesboro, and wounded another woman. Police continue to investigate both homicides, and no arrests have been made.

Turner ordered both clubs to remain closed in November 2013 after the locks were placed on the doors. Both were the subject of lengthy hearings in December.

It came out during the Primetime hearing that club owner Karen Pittman Brown stated in a lease agreement with property owner Mark Anderson that she was the sole owner. However, Eurl Kittles admitted in court that he and Brown provided state officials with the lease agreement because he feared that applying for an alcohol license in his name would result in denial because of multiple suspended license charges.

Anderson testified in court that he never met Brown and believed Kittles to have been the sole owner of Primetime Lounge. Both Brown and Kittles testified that they were partners in the club's ownership, with Brown receiving 10 percent of profits.

On Jan. 7, Statesboro City Council revoked Primetime's alcohol license.

Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.



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