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No Key Was Key to Case

An area with a high crime rate, a motorcycle club and a group of garages that no one ever has a key with which to open in 10 years time – could it be something illegal is going on in those buildings?. While the inspections by the Fire Marshall are held every two years no one could ever open them.

Terry Sanginitti reports for The New Journal, there had been “countless outbursts of violence, resulting in several shootings and murders . . . two men were hospitalized following a double shooting . . . A 30-year-old Wilmington man was slain . . . and a woman was wounded . . A triple shooting that left one man dead in 2009. There had even been a drug bust by “local and federal authorities . . . following a three-month drug investigation into a cocaine ring targeting the Thunderguards.” But no one ever checked out these garages, for which no one had a key.

But one day, the inspectors came around and saw someone close the garage. They reasoned: if you close it you must have had a means to open it. Well, Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode describes what they found: “They completely built another room inside three of the six garages, like a bar with liquor stored inside, table and chairs, pool tables, flat-screen TV, smoking and a bathroom.” Tony Soprano would have enjoyed it!

The illegally operating bar also had two illegal gambling machines. They were cited for numerous safety violations. And numerous charges may be filed against RM Auto Service who are owners of the property and the Thunderguards Motorcycle Club that leased the garages.

While one can appreciate the need to avoid over-reaching on the part of the Fire Marshall, yet for a group of buildings to go through two, three, more than four cycles of inspections, does seem odd. The tragic events of the past four years and the frequent use of “insiders” to bust illegal drug operations might have caused someone to wonder: why this big room in these three garages? The drug officers may not have been aware it was an unapproved building without a license to sell alcohol or gambling machines. But perhaps those who have charge for the public’s safety should put a note in a file when a set of buildings goes more than three years without the Fire Marshall checking them. There may be cause for alarm!


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