A state-ordered, one-month shut down of Heartbreakers go-go bar will go into effect in September unless the owner pays $10,000 in back fines, said Bloomfield Attorney Brain Aloia at last night’s town council meeting.
The fine, part of an unpaid balance of $56,019 for past violations, will close the bar from 2:00am September 7th to 2:00am October 7th.
But council members and Police Chief Christopher Goul said they are not as concerned about the unpaid fine as about the effect Heartbreakers is having on the community. The council said a discplinary hearing to address the matter will take place at the upcoming August 13 meeting.
Goul cited the most recent incident on July 29, when a barfight resulted in a man being thrown into the window of a market.
“The victim was hit over the head with a beer bottle,” he said. “We keep files on every incident. Twenty-four times we’ve taken reports, for nine assaults and fifteen other disturbances. Some of the arrests involved weapons.” He added that lewdness and immoral activity were involved in thirteen different violations dating back to May 2009, and said he wondered how many unreported incidents had occurred.
“It seems it’s every two weeks, every month, they’re utilizing our officers” he said, which put them at risk.
Councilman Nick Joanow agreed, saying the high number of incidents at Heartbreakers was “completely unacceptable.” He called the establishment “a magnet that’s attracting these testosterone individuals charged with adrenaline.”
Mayor McCarthy suggested installing multiple round-the-clock cameras to record activity inside and outside the bar.
“One of the problems I keep having is that, unless we have cameras, we can’t link the actors to the bar. What’s the issue with us making them have cameras?” he asked the council at large.
In fact, Heartbreakers owner Jimmy Corrao stated on May 13 that he already had infrared security cameras installed on the premises. It was not clear, however, whether the cameras had ever aided the police.
When McCarthy suggested increasing police presence at the bar to every night, rather than just Friday and Saturday nights, Councilman Bernard Hamilton responded, “You have to wonder why (the bar) needs so many police officers.”
Hamilton advocated bringing Corrao back before the council, “this time with his lawyer.”
“I think we need to bring him back in here because issues that happen inside the establishment affect people in the street,” he said, noting that it was unfair to neighborhood businesses in the redevelopment area that were “trying to build themselves up.”
After the meeting, Township Attorney Brian Aloia said Corrao would be served a notice of discipline to appear before the council at the next meeting in August.
“It will be a formal hearing with regards to the charges against [the bar],” he said. “Restrictions can be placed on their license. At this point they’re suspended from September 7th to October 7th.
“The disciplinary action will start a dialogue,” he added. “If the bar is found unsafe, you can make safety measures a condition of their license [in the future.]”