A Franklin strip club manager admitted to selling drugs. Are the owners liable for that?

A Warren County judge will determine if a corporation that owns New York, New York Cabaret in Franklin has criminal liability for felony charges stemming from a local and state investigation that started in December 2016.

Following a daylong bench trial, Common Pleas Judge Timothy Tepe took the case under advisement and requested memos from Assistant Prosecutor Derek Faulkner and David Chicarelli, the attorney representing N.Y.N.Y. Inc., the owners of the strip club, in two weeks before deciding the case.

“This is a very unique kind of a case,” Chicarelli said.

The judge must decide if a corporation can be held criminally liable for actions by an employee who is not a high-level manager or someone who sets company policy.

During testimony Thursday, one of the managers also indicted in the case, Michael Reese, admitted to conducting drug activity on his own. Reese said he was the club’s night manager.

Chicarelli said the first-degree misdemeanor charge of illegally operating a sexually oriented business was dismissed on Thursday.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell could not be reached for comment Friday.

The club, two managers and a dancer were indicted in 2017 on 23 felony and misdemeanor counts.

N.Y.N.Y. Inc. was indicted for two counts of trafficking in cocaine and four counts of permitting drug abuse, all fifth-degree felonies, and illegally operating a sexually oriented business, a first-degree misdemeanor. The club also was charged with misdemeanor counts for permitting nude dancing in the establishment after midnight in violation of Ohio law.

Reese pleaded guilty to charges of cocaine trafficking, illegally operating a sexually oriented business, possession of cocaine and permitting drug abuse in January 2018. He was placed on three years probation in March 2018.

The other manager, Courtney Rogers of Springfield, was indicted on the same charges and was granted treatment in lieu of conviction in February 2018.

Two other dancers were charged with misdemeanors and pleaded guilty in Franklin Municipal Court as a result of that investigation.

A third employee, Mark Butterfield III of Cincinnati, was indicted, but his case was dismissed.

The club at 1121 E. Second St. remains in operation pending resolution of an objection to its liquor permit renewal filed by the city of Franklin with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

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