Monday, February 01, 2010

Former Faces Tenant Sentenced Following Guilty Plea

We finally closed an unfortunate and sad chapter in Faces history last week. Following our closure, we worked on a plan to get the bar reopened. We were approached by a nightclub operator in St. Louis with an offer that turned out to be too good to be true. This club operator, Robert Williams, offered to put in the sweat equity and money necessary to get the bar reopened, then he would lease the space from us. We hoped to host private seasonal Faces parties in the space while Williams hosted his Club TV One party concept. We knew nothing about his past nor could we afford to hire anyone to do background checks. We were broke, we went with our gut, and we were wrong. After months of promises and some but not a lot of improvements to the building, Williams was arrested, the bar was raided, and adding insult to injury, our equipment was taken by the US Attorney. Our tenant's former landlord claimed that his equipment was in our building. The judge and US Attorney (a Republican appointment) actually allowed this person, named Bradley, to enter our building under the supervision of federal law enforcement, and basically go shopping. Bradley was allowed to take the equipment from our building that we owned. We attempted to communicate with the US Attorney and he did not seem to either understand or care that he had stolen our equipment. He advised our attorney that we needed to work that out with Bradley's attorney, that he (the US Attorney) was "washing his hands of the whole thing". Bradley's attorney claimed that all the equipment that he took was actually his, even though we had inventories, serial numbers, and in some cases video and photo proof that the equipment was ours. This was how it stayed for nearly 9 months, until October when Williams plead guilty to the charges filed against him. This made no sense to us...Williams was charged with stealing the equipment that actually belonged to us, we had proof that the equipment was not stolen and actually belonged to us, yet the US Attorney went ahead with charges and obtained a guilty plea. From what we can figure out, the US Attorney had enough evidence concerning drugs and Williams parole violations that he used this to force a guilty plea to save his own would have looked pretty stupid and unprofessional if the media learned that this big case was based on false testimony (claims that the property was stolen were false, thus the search warrant that was issued to raid the bar was illegal, thus the evidence obtained in the raid was tainted).
The story made for great television...apparently the US Attorney or the FBI alerted the media as we all saw the news video of men with guns and bullet proof vests going in and out of the bar and men carrying our equipment went along with the stories about alleged corruption in East St. Louis..but it wasn't true.
We are left without our equipment and more legal bills. It appears that in general, attorneys are afraid to call attention to themselves by challenging the actions of the US Attorney and Federal law enforcement even when those actions can be proven wrong and unjust. The media got the story wrong and never bothered to contact us or even William's attorney, and furthered the whole "East St. Louis is full of criminals" storyline that they like to push.
Williams is in jail, as many of you may know from the short little stories in the RFT, the Post, and the Belleville News-Democrat last week. We don't have our equipment nor is the building ready to reopen. More damage was done while our tenant occupied the building, including damage to our main floor AC unit from copper thieves....the main floor unit, the largest (and most expensive) was the only one not damaged from our first copper that one is inoperable too.
We may have someone new to do the work and invest the money necessary to save the building. We're sorry we don't have something more positive to report about a possible future for Faces and we thank you for continuing to follow our story.