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Authorities close illegal club near Camak

CAMAK, Ga. -- For the second time in less than a year, an illegal nightclub has been shut down by law enforcement authorities in Warren County.

The latest so-called club, known as Rip's Place, 2781 Georgia Highway 80 N. near Camak, was closed March 3 via a temporary order by Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Roger W. Dunaway Jr., according to court records filed in Warren County Superior Court.

The civil action later led to a criminal search warrant being issued last week when lawmen became suspicious that other activities might have been taking place there.

In a refrigerator, authorities located a small amount of moonshine whisky and some beer.

"They had been doing business as a nightclub without an alcoholic beverage license," Warren County Sheriff Joe Peebles told reporters during a search of the establishment last week. "We've had all kinds of problems out of this place."

Sheriff Peebles said his deputies had answered several calls to the nightclub during the past few months and that he was glad something was now being done to close its doors.

At least two people were stabbed there after a fight on Feb. 14. The stabbing took place in the parking lot.

It subsequently led to an undercover operation, which was spearheaded by Sheriff Peebles. During that operation, Michael Moss, reportedly working there as a body guard, was arrested by lawmen on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Authorities also discovered at the time that patrons were being charged a cover fee of $10.

The closure of Rip's Place was made possible with the help of the Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office. Both Dennis C. Sanders, the local district attorney, as well as William P. "Bill" Doupe', senior assistant district attorney, participated when Sheriff Peebles and Deputies Joey Smith, Sammy Purvis and Joey Akers served court papers there last week.

Events at the nightclub in recent months have drawn upwards of 200 people, Sheriff Peebles said. People at the club have come from McDuffie, Warren and Wilkes counties. Large gatherings of people there began back in July 2008.

Since January 2009, 911 dispatchers in Warren County have received 31 calls ranging from fight calls to loud music and shots fired. A total of 26 of those calls have happened since a similar injunction helped shut the doors of Jessie's Place.

The events have been advertised by fliers being posted on utility poles in both Warren and McDuffie counties.

"The state contends the manner in which the fliers are printed are a ruse designed to make law enforcement believe that these events are more akin to a birthday party amongst friends, as opposed to the money-making, alcohol-selling events that actually attract individuals from the surrounding counties," court records show.

Mr. Doupe' said the nightclub had been operating without a local or state license.

The civil action was filed as a complaint to abate public and common nuisance, court records reveal. The title holder of the property is listed as Rithol Collins, of Warrenton. Tax records show that the 2006, 2007 and 2009 taxes were paid in cash by unknown persons, while the 2008 taxes were paid by a check drawn on the account of Tangie L. Collins, of Blythe. Law enforcement authorities have been unable to determine who is in charge of the events at Rip's Place.

The illegal nightclub is located on a half-acre lot in a residential neighborhood. A small trailer had been converted into a makeshift two-story club, containing a bar and pool table.

A hearing is set for later this month before Judge Dunaway, in which Mr. Collins and Ms. Collins are required to attend.

Web posted on Thursday, March 11, 2010

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