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NYC Sheriff busts careless illegal Midtown club where 400 boozed up, partied without masks | amNewYork

NYC Sheriff busts careless illegal Midtown club where 400 boozed up, partied without masks

The NYC Sheriff's office raided an illegal bottle club on West 36th Street early on Saturday morning, where more than 400 people illegally gathered.
Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff's Office

A killer global pandemic didn’t stop their good time — but the sheriff did.

Nearly 400 people were found partying at an illegal Midtown bottle club that the Sheriff’s office busted up early Saturday morning.

It was the second bust of its kind that the sheriff’s reps conducted this week, having closed down a similar bottle club in Queens early Thursday morning where scores of people were gathered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest operation in Midtown, according to the Sheriff’s office, happened at about 2:45 a.m. on Nov. 28 inside a commercial building at 202 West 36th St. in the Garment District.

The party was located inside the premises, but not the Pig N Whistle, a bar located at the same building but was not involved in the illegal party.

Deputy sheriffs arrived at the location and observed a crowd in excess of 393 individuals drinking and failing to socially distance. Many of them were not wearing masks.

The illegal bottle club also failed to have proper licenses to store, sell and serve booze, the Sheriff’s office reported.

The interior of the makeshift club.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office
Patrons leaving the illegal club.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office

After shutting the party down, the Sheriff’s office charged four bottle club employees — Vincent Cereghini, 27, of New Jersey; Ronald Helvy, 36, of Pennsylvania; Jahmier Lewis, 33, of New Jersey and James Jenkins, 35, of New York — on various charges for violating the mayor’s and governor’s emergency pandemic orders on crowd capacity, social distancing, serving alcohol and mask-wearing.

As for the Queens raid, the Sheriff’s office visited Koko Rico at 40-15 Junction Blvd. in Corona at 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 and conducted a two-hour stakeout of the club for a suspected mass gathering.

Corona is currently within the Queens “yellow zone,” which prohibits indoor dining and drinking, and the service of alcohol after 10 p.m. every night.

During that time, law enforcement agents spotted an apparently intoxicated man unconscious in a nearby alleyway and called for medical assistance.

Two hours after arrival, at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, the Sheriff’s office went into Koko Rico and spotted more than 76 individuals drinking alcohol, smoking hookah pipes and dancing. None of the patrons were said to be wearing masks or socially distancing.

Patrons and Sheriff’s office agents inside Koko Loco.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office
The NYC Sheriff’s office outside Koko Loco restaurant in Corona, Queens.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office

Three individuals who were said to have organized and worked at the gathering were subsequently arrested: Adham Mahmoud, 27, of Staten Island; Angel Carrion, 34, of Manhattan; and Michael Edgardo Melendez, 35, of Queens. They were variously charged with violations of the emergency executive orders related to the pandemic.

Koko Rico, meanwhile, was hit with a $15,000 fine for failure to protect public health and safety. The club does not have a valid liquor permit, the Sheriff’s office noted.

The closures come as COVID-19 cases grow across New York amid the pandemic’s second wave. Another 6,000 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the Empire State on Nov. 27; so far, more than 26,000 New Yorkers since March 1 have died of the illness.

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