Los Angeles—As part of his ongoing focus on public safety, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his Office has filed 17 criminal charges against three separate businesses—two alleged illegal underground nightclubs and one alleged illegal underground casino—all operating within a half mile of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. One of the clubs, located in a residential area, had a shooting in August with 20 shots reportedly fired.
“We allege the people behind these clubs have put their customers and everyone nearby in harm’s way. That must stop,” said Feuer. “We allege there’s been a shooting at one of the locations with several guns recovered, and drugs found at the other locations—and that none of the locations is licensed. The club on North El Centro is in a residential neighborhood, 350 feet from an elementary school and directly across the street from a behavioral health treatment center. No Angeleno should be forced to contend with a noisy, unlicensed nightclub next door – especially one that had a shooting and multiple guns found on the property.”
The owners and operators of the alleged underground nightclub at 800 North El Centro Avenue, on a residential street – Rami Ben-Moshe, Jason Williams and Khani Rice – have been charged with 12 counts, including dispensing alcohol without a license, live music and dance hall without a permit and a noise violation.
LAPD began receiving complaints about this location in August and upon going out to inspect, observed a large party with a cover charge, DJ’s playing loud music and alcohol sales. Officers broke up the party, arrested several people and confiscated guns.
On August 29, 2021, Officers responded to shots fired at this location during another party—witnesses report hearing approximately 20 gun shots—a victim was shot several times in his face and body. Officers recovered a handgun and numerous casings from two different handguns and discovered multiple bullet holes in the building next door.
In early September on two separate occasions, LAPD went to the scene again and encountered additional parties, broke them up and arrested the responsible parties. One time they recovered two additional handguns and the other time they confiscated the DJ equipment.
Ben-Moshe and Williams both face up to five years in jail and $10,000 in penalties. Rice faces one year in jail, $2,000 maximum penalty.
The operator of the alleged underground nightclub at 6024 Santa Monica Boulevard, Francesco Conte, has been charged with four counts, including dispensing alcohol without a license, dance hall without a permit and a noise violation. This is a commercial building, located in a shopping center, adjacent to Hollywood Forever Cemetery and about 500 feet from Hollywood Elementary School.
LAPD responded and observed a party and security guards at the door charging admission. They also discovered large quantities of alcohol and narcotics. Officers broke up the party and arrested the responsible parties. Conte faces two years in jail and $4,000 maximum penalties.
The operator of the alleged casino at 5547 Santa Monica Boulevard, Brandon Chang, has been charged with one count for the illegal use of land.
5547 Santa Monica Boulevard is a two-story commercial building with a market, swap meet and space purportedly used as a Presbyterian Church. In August, LAPD took a report from a victim who stated he was at an underground casino at this location when he was beaten and robbed by another patron. One week later, LAPD sent an informant to the location and they were able to purchase meth.
A few weeks later, LAPD executed a search warrant and discovered gambling equipment, ammunition and large quantities of cannabis. Officers also arrested several people who were wanted on outstanding warrants and parole violations. Officers identified the responsible party who admitted the space had been used as a casino.
Chang faces six months jail and $1,000 in penalties.
Neighborhood Prosecutor Ethan Weaver, who works with LAPD Hollywood, is prosecuting these cases.