Darci Marchese, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Seven club owners in Prince George's County are facing 16 indictments after allegedly violating tax, alcohol and licensing regulations.
Two of the clubs have been shut down.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says the club owners owe the state more than $700,000 in back taxes. He says once the audit is completed, they could end up owing more than $1 million.
"There's a new Sheriff in town," he says, warning that other businesses that don't pay taxes will also be targeted in the near future.
He adds the dollars are desperately needed right now for education, health care and road maintenance.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks says the charges brought against the club owners show there is no tolerance for businesses skirting taxes.
"These businesses have, we believe in most cases, blatantly avoided paying taxes and this is a crime and we will not tolerate it," Alsobrooks says.
Many agencies came together to investigate the clubs, including Prince George's County police and Maryland State Police. They conducted surveillance of the clubs in 2011.
Alsobrooks says some clubs didn't have the proper permits to sell alcohol, some sold alcohol illegally and others didn't tax cover charges.
The clubs include Puzzles Event Center in Suitland, De La Swan Event Atrium in Hyattsville, Let's Chat in Suitland, Crossroads in Bladensburg, Plaza 23 in Fort Washington, Black Amethyst in Temple Hills and CFE Club in Forrestville.
Black Amethyst and CFE Club are the only two clubs that remain shut down. The others have complied and remain open.
Some of the offenses are felonies and punishable up to 5 years in prison.
Prince George's County Chief of Police Mark Magaw says the closing of these clubs has had a positive impact on crime. Homicides are down 40 percent this year and overall crime is down county wide 5.5 percent.
Some of the clubs encourage crime and violence and surrounding areas have seen an improvment since the bust, Alsobrooks.
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