Club Cinema is a music venue in Pompano Beach that was first exposed in a 7News investigation. Depending on what happens in court this week, the club could be closed for good. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN — It was the most recent event at Club Cinema, and all attention was on a 15-year-old who was in trouble just outside the club.
Sgt. Tom McInerney: “She was throwing up. She was incapacitated on the curb, could barely stand up straight. Her eyes were rolled back and glassy. Typical overdose and intoxication symptoms.”
Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tom McInerney is in charge of the department’s Crime Suppression Team. On that night, he not only captured video of the 15-year-old, but another teen, 16, who also had to be taken to the hospital.
Authorities say incidents like this are common at Club Cinema. Pompano Beach calls the club a public nuisance, but the club, which is now taking its own video, calls the City and law enforcement a nuisance.
Sandy Topkin: “How far back does it go? Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”
Attorney Sandy Topkin represents Club Cinema. With a private investigator sitting in, Sam Frontera, who did time for cocaine distribution, told me he is the club’s manager.
Sam Frontera: “After you got millions of dollars invested in something, you come to town legit, try to open a venue for kids to enjoy themselves. I’m the guy that’s the bad guy; put the drug kingpin out of his business.”
The club is fighting back, claiming BSO is violating rights by conducting undercover drug busts inside and being a visible presence outside the facility.
Carmel Cafiero: “Wouldn’t you want them to get the people with the drugs out of the club?”
Sandy Topkin: “If they would cooperate and do it the way we’ve asked, yes.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Well, that’s not for you to tell the police how to do their job. is it?”
Sandy Topkin: “Oh, yes, it is. I’m so sorry Miss Carmel. Yes, it is private property. They have no right to enter without a warrant!”
Broward’s sheriff disagrees.
Sheriff Scott Israel: “We’re gonna do everything we can within the framework of the law to keep our kids safe.”
Frontera maintains it’s all about politics. He says he’s had problems with Pompano Beach officials who have influenced the sheriff.
Sam Frontera: “Cause it’s politically driven.”
Carmel Cafiero: “You’re convinced of that?”
Sam Frontera: “I’m not convinced, I know.”
But Sheriff Scott Israel says law enforcement at Club Cinema is about public safety, not politics.
Sheriff Scott Israel: “This is a convicted felon who is certainly allowed his own opinions.”
BSO has made 133 arrests at Club Cinema. Ninety-nine of them were felonies. They have seized everything from marijuana to mollies, an ecstasy-like drug, to cocaine and LSD.
Sheriff Scott Israel: “You know the proof is in the pudding. If you look at the history and you look at the numbers, how would one not declare it a public nuisance?”
Authorities say many of the young teens lie to their parents about where they’re going and change clothes after they leave home.
Sgt. Tom McInerney: “And I’ve had fathers break out in tears when they see their young daughters and what they’re wearing and their current state.”
Expect the back-and-forth to repeat in court, where a judge will have to decide if it’s lights out for Club Cinema.
Carmel Cafiero, 7News.
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