THE FOLLOWING IS A NEWS RELEASE FROM THE NC DEPARTMENT OF CRIME CONTROL AND PUBLIC SAFETY:
RALEIGH, NC (NEWS RELEASE) - New Hanover County District Attorney Benjamin R. David filed a civil nuisance abatement action today on behalf of the state of North Carolina against the owners and operators of the Rhino Club, 125 Market St., Wilmington.
The Wilmington Police Department has responded to numerous calls for service at the club including fights, assaults and a fatal stabbing that occurred in January. The civil nuisance abatement action is the first step in permanently eliminating criminal activities on the property.
“This action is the result of a long-term investigation by the District Attorney's Office, the Wilmington Police Department, and the N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement Division,” David said. “In addition to injunctive relief, the city and state seek to recover investigative and attorney's fees, and the owners of the business will be prohibited by statute from operating a similar business here or in the state of North Carolina.”
The property is owned by East Coast Development II LLC, and the Rhino Club was operated by Mad Hatter Wilmington Inc. The corporate manager of East Coast Development II, James A. McFarland Jr., and officers of Mad Hatter, Sean Tobin and Damon Scarpelli, are defendants in the lawsuit.
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said, “Where unlawful acts occur that threaten the health and safety of this community, Wilmington PD is committed to acting aggressively to resolve the matter. A nuisance action is a powerful tool we can use to eliminate problem establishments that consistently disregard the law.”
“I commend the District Attorney's Office for taking this strong step to reduce crime,” said ALE Director John Ledford. “ALE is committed to working closely with communities to provide permanent solutions to long-term problems at properties alleged to be havens for criminal activity.”
The investigative team coordinating information for the lawsuit consisted of the District Attorney's Office, Fifth Prosecutorial District, New Hanover and Pender counties; the Wilmington Police Department, the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office and ALE.