Karaoke Bars Want NYPD to Face the Music


     BROOKLYN (CN) — After 23 police officials were implicated in a karaoke bar bribery scheme, clubs that could help prosecutors put the corrupt New York City cops away say they’ve faced a campaign of intimidation.
     According to a complaint filed Wednesday against the city, the “Karaoke Bar Protection Scandal” blew up on Dec. 8, 2015, when a detective and a lieutenant were arrested and charged with accepting bribes from karaoke club owners in exchange for tips about scheduled police raids.
     The clubs behind the complaint, led by 360 Lounge LLC, note that they all operate in Flushing, Queens, a heavily Asian area of the city.
     They say New York City still has not executed any indictments in the karaoke scandal though the investigation has implicated 23 NYPD officers including two captains, three lieutenants, three sergeants and three detectives.
     Yet since the scandal erupted, according to the complaint, the NYPD has begun “selective enforcement actions throughout the Asian community to intimidate them into not cooperating with the karaoke bar protection scandal.”
     The bars say NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is worried about how the scandal will affect his legacy, so he “engaged in a concerted effort to intimidate witnesses into not cooperating with the criminal investigation of police officers.”
     Bratton announced earlier this month that he will leave office on Sept. 1.
     Meantime the Flushing karaoke bars say they have had to suffer surprise business inspections and overall increase of police presence outside their establishments, deterring customers.
     Home Run KTV, which operates a karaoke bar on Kissena Boulevard, says they city is trying to have its business shut down as a public nuisance, claiming that its club “was the site of three ketamine ‘buys’ using a ‘confidential informant,’ resulting in the arrest of 18 members of the Asian community.”
     Ketamine is a party drug known on the streets as Special K.
     The complaint also says security footage recorded police making their way into 360 Lounge’s bar on 37th Avenue for a secret search when the business was closed.
     Forbidden City, a bar on Fowler Avenue, meanwhile cites the recent arrest of an employee.
     Such tactics are nothing new for the city, according to the complaint, which points to the so-called “Dirty 30” scandal that played out in the early ’90s, when 33 NYPD officers were arrested for committing burglaries and stealing drug money from Dominicans and other minorities in Upper Manhattan.
     Forbidden City, Home Run KTV, 360 Lounge and individuals associated with the bars seek damages for race discrimination and conspiracy.
     They are represented by Manhattan attorney Eric Sanders.
     “What it boils down to, the police can’t police themselves and this is evidence that it’s time for the New York State Attorney General and or/the Department of Justice to step in,” Sanders said in an phone interview Thursday morning.
     On his website, the attorney notes that the case is an example of the public continuing to suffer despite legislative reform regarding police corruption.
     “In this matter, no one knows the depth of the police corruption in the ‘Karaoke Bar Protection Scandal,'” the website says. “Certainly, my clients’ feel the mayor, police commissioner and district attorney are simply waiting for everything to blow over, and then close the criminal case, handling everything within the NYPD as in other police scandals.
     “The ‘Karaoke Bar Protection Scandal’ should be referred to the New York State Attorney General and/or the Department of Justice for investigation.”
     The NYPD did not respond to a telephone request for comment Thursday morning. The city also remained mum on an emailed request for comment.

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