Crime

Chez Joey strip club owner surrenders business license

The owner of Chez Joey has surrendered his business license to Myrtle Beach city officials after the gentleman’s club – where police say two 4-year-old children were sexually assaulted – was deemed a public nuisance.

The license was surrendered to the city Tuesday after a Myrtle Beach license official sent a letter March 23 stating the business license was being revoked.

The letter gave several reasons for the revocation, accusing the manager, Anthony Strickland, who signed for the license, of fraud for not admitting a past drug conviction and for telling the S.C. Department of Revenue he had no managerial responsibilities at the business.

According to the letter, Strickland applied for a business license on behalf of Chez Joey of Myrtle Beach as the club’s manager on Jan. 18, 2013. On Feb. 15, 2012, he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana, a conviction that violated city codes and put the club’s license at risk for revocation, according to the license official.

Myrtle Beach police have documented more than 22 crimes at the club in the past 18 months. Crimes included assaults, disorderly conduct, vehicle theft, narcotics violations, vandalism and larceny, according to police.

On April 20, the city’s police regulatory unit “issued notice of a public nuisance at Chez Joey of Myrtle Beach in connection with illegal drug activity and assaults,” the letter stated. An investigation into whether Chez Joey’s license should be revoked started March 7.

Mary McDowell, the license official, determined that Chez Joey had “engaged in unlawful activity or nuisance related to the business,” according to the letter. During the past 18 months the police have documented more than 22 crimes at the club including assaults, disorderly conduct, vehicle theft, narcotics violations, vandalism and larceny.

The most recent assault occurred March 9 when a dancer assaulted a security guard at the club, according to McDowell’s letter. Three other assaults at Chez Joey involved employees and “there have been other complaints made about drug sales and prostitution” at the club.

In a recorded interview with Horry County police, Strickland admitted he had to “discipline dancers … for selling and using drugs, for having sex with customers” and that he had also had sex with the dancers, according to the letter.

Another reason for the license revocation listed in the five-page letter stated the club engaged in unlawful activities and had developed the reputation of being a public nuisance.

Police seized video footage, computers and other items from the adult entertainment business March 3 when Strickland, Panteleimon “Peter” Spirakis, Ambrose Heavener and Lindsay Honeycutt were arrested and each charged with multiple sex crimes against two 4-year-old children.

A bond hearing was held in Conway today for for the four Horry County residents charged with sexually abusing two 4-year-old victims. Friday, March 4, 2016. The four people charged are: Lindsey D. Honeycutt, 29, of Myrtle Beach; Ambrose E. Heavene

The children claimed they were sexually assaulted at Chez Joey and in a private home by Strickland, Honeycutt, Heavener and Spirakis, according to the letter.

Honeycutt worked as a dancer at the now-shuttered business and would bring the victims with her until she got off work, police said.

Chez Joey’s owner, Ernest Hatmaker, said last month that he cooperated fully with police when authorities came in to investigate.

Hatmaker was given 15 days after receiving the letter to appeal the license revocation decision or to surrender his license, according to city officials.

McDowell said her research into other adult entertainment businesses owned by Hatmaker: Chez Joey of New Orleans, Chez Joey of Toledo and Chez Joey of Baltimore revealed ongoing problems at each location. The alcohol beverage license of Chez Joey of New Orleans was suspended “because of charges of prostitution, drugs and lewd acts.”

Police documented 31 crimes at the Toledo location, including murder, a shooting and drug trafficking. And the Baltimore location was raided in March 2015 “in connection with an investigation into gangs and violence,” McDowell noted in her letter.

Elizabeth Townsend: 843-626-0217, @TSN_etownsend

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily

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