Clinton Highway bar called "sewer" of criminal activity" won't reopen

6:21 PM, Jul 29, 2010   |    comments
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  • Rachel Ketelle
  • William C. Brown
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  • George R. Woodward, Jr.

A north Knoxville bar that was shut down after a drug raid last week, will be closed down for good.

Police raided the Orange Sports Bar and Grill on Clinton Highway on July 22.

After the DA's office filed an injunction against the bar, the owner agreed to cease operations and surrender his beer license.  On Thursday, Knox County Criminal Court Judge Bobby McGee signed off on an the agreement.

A dozen people were indicted on charges related to the raid.

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Knoxville's Police Department and District Attorney General Randy Nichols announced Friday morning they have shut down the Orange Sports Bar and Grill on Clinton Highway for a number of illegal activities.

The move comes after a two year investigation and is a welcome sight for neighbors like Sara Hynds.

"When he (police investigator) walked in this morning and said it was closed, I was like like, 'I love you!'.  It's the most wonderful thing that's happened since I've been here."

Hynds works next door at a check cashing business and says patrons of the Orange Bar would leave beer cans everywhere, were lewd, and she even believes she spotted sex in the back parking lot on at least one occasion.

"This place is a menace to society, it is literally an open sewer of criminal conduct," District Attorney Randy Nichols said.

Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen said undercover officers found cocaine sales, oxycodone sales, and prostitution among the illegal activities at the bar.

When officers raided the facility Thursday night, they only found about 40 cans of beer for sale.  They believe the business was just a front for illegal activity inside.  The bar's most recent health score of a 24 was a failing grade and bad enough the bar would have to be shut down.

The facility is being shut down under a nuisance ordinance.  In the past two years, police have been called to the Orange Sports Bar and Grill 170 times.

"We don't want to continue to spend our common dollars on people of your ilk," Nichols said.  "Fair warning, it's been announced today, if you choose to continue to live life in this lifestyle and in this business, I need to warn you, you are now at great risk."

A Knox County grand jury indicted 12 people in connection to the alleged criminal activity.  Those charged include the bar's manager, William C. Brown, and two other employees, Rachel Ketelle and George R. Woodward, Jr. 

"We were able to infiltrate the individuals who were operating out of this particular bar, we were able to make buys from them on a regular basis," Sterling Owen IV, Knoxville's Chief of Police said.

Nichols said they are hoping this will serve as an example to other businesses in the area.  He said police and his office are watching and he's tired of Knox County taxpayer's money being spent for businesses that promote repeated illegal activity.

Stay with and watch 10News at 5 for more details on this developing story.


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