A raid on a Clito area night club Friday night netted four arrests for illegal alcohol sales. About 30 law enforcement officers surrounded “Da Pond,” a club on Club Road in Clito after several undercover purchases of alcohol led to a search warrant.
Around 11:30 p.m., Bulloch County Sheriff’s deputies, Georgia State troopers and agents from the Georgia Department of Revenue Alcohol and Tobacco Division swooped down on the club after a parade of patrol cars made its way to the club with the search warrant. The Statesboro Herald was on the scene as the raid occurred, after having received a tip about the incident.
Revenue agents, troopers and deputies quickly cleared the club, sending clients home while holding suspects. Arrested at the scene were Darrell Joseph Hendrix, 25, Matthews Road – one count of selling alcohol without a license; Marina Faith Burns, 28, South Foss Street – three counts of selling alcohol without a license; Tokia Shaea Brown, 32, Chandler Road – one count of selling alcohol without a license, and Benjamin Hughie Jackson, 40, street address unknown (Statesboro) – sale of alcohol without a license and wanted person for an outstanding warrant for deposit account fraud.
ATD agents located several gallon bottles of various types of liquor and whiskey, as well as smaller bottles of alcohol, beer, pre-mixed alcoholic beverages and mixers, said Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson, who was also on the scene.
The undercover agent went inside Da Pond and purchased a pint bottle of Hennessy cognac for $20 before leaving and reporting his purchase, said Georgia Department of Revenue ATD Agent Ron Huckaby. After he confirmed the purchase, other state and local officials secured the search warrant and initiated the raid.
No one affiliated with the club had an alcohol license, Anderson said. Undercover agents had been investigating complaints or about a month, and purchases of alcohol were made over a three-week period, Huckaby said.
This was the second time the club was raided. Several years ago, another operator was running the place, known then as “Club Pond,” until it was raided and closed, Anderson said. “Back then we started to have complaints, and we’re back again.”
The property is owned by Carol Rock Bellinger, and managed by her sister, Annie Bellinger, who was also called to the scene around 1 a.m. Sunday.
She said she was unaware that the ones leasing the facility for $400 a night had been selling alcohol.
“We had heard little bits and dribbles, but they swore to me they were not selling,” she said. Bellinger said the family plans to limit rentals of the property to daytime activities such as family reunions and youth activities.
That was the plan fore, after Club Pond was closed, but she succumbed to pressure from several who wanted to have night club activities there.
Anderson said several fliers he saw regarding club activities at Da Pond advertised late night “birthday party” gatherings, with live music and dancers.
“They said they wanted a place where people could enjoy themselves and not agitate the neighborhood,” Bellinger said. “This won’t happen again.”
She watched as agents packed up bottles of liquor – open and unopened – into boxes. There were Mason jars filled with colorful concoctions containing alcohol, and several kinds of nonalcoholic mixers in a small barroom.
Anderson said the operators were offering weak mixed drinks for free with the price of a cover charge. A deejay and three others, who claimed they had been paid $250 for the night’s entertainment, packed up equipment as law enforcement cleared the building.
Some deputies obtained a ladder and removed several dollar bills that were hanging from the steel rafters in the dimly-lit block building, which was illuminated mostly by Christmas-type light strings inside and out.
Many visitors to the club were confused during the raid, unsettled by the sea of flashing blue lights and uniformed officers. A few resisted orders to leave the premises, claiming their purses, cell phones and other items were still inside. Officers helped those people locate their belongings, and all except those arrested left without incident.
The four suspects were taken to the Bulloch County Jail to await further court proceedings including bond hearings, Anderson said.
The investigation is ongoing and further arrests and charges are possible, Huckaby said.
Da Pond is located on Club Road, off Old River Road North, near U.S. 30 North. The 30-plus patrol cars and trucks navigated about a mile of rough, rutted dirt road before arriving at the block and steel structure, situated amid an open field for parking near a small pond.
Holli Deal Bragg maybe reached at (912) 489-9414.