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Old 09-02-2004, 03:29 AM   #1
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Club Krome closing (NJ)

When Club Krome opens its doors tomorrow night for the first time since a patron was gunned down outside the club early Sunday morning, the crowd on hand won't just be the teenagers that usually fill the Sayreville nightclub.

A contingent of police officers will be at the Route 35 club, as well as members of the borough council, intent on preventing another tragedy like the shooting that left 18-year-old Che Michaud Elon Broadus of Union dead.

Borough officials said yesterday the incident has left them with no choice but to force the club to shut down.

"Either they (the club owners) close it on their own, or it will be closed," said Thomas Pollando, the borough council president. "We'll have to close them. Our attorneys are checking now how we can do that legally."

Pollando has asked all of his fellow council members to join him in front of the club on Old Spye Road tomorrow night as a sign of their seriousness about putting it out of business.

"We have got to find a way to close it," he said. "That poor boy was sitting in a car when he was shot. This is terrible and very fearful. This doesn't belong in Sayreville."

Broadus was killed after he left the club around 1 a.m. Sunday and was on Old Spye Road waiting to turn onto Route 35 when a hooded gunman fired several shots into his car, hitting him once in the chest. He died en route to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, authorities said.

Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Thomas Kapsak said the investigation was continuing, but he had little to say about the slaying yesterday.

"We're making progress," said Kapsak, who oversees homicide investigations. He declined to elaborate.

Kapsak also said he could not discuss whether police had developed a clearer description of the gunman, who fled across Route 35 after the shooting, and would not say if police had developed a motive for the shootings.

Family members said Broadus' friend had an argument with another club patron and reported to a bouncer that the man was armed with a knife. The armed man was kicked out of the club about two hours before Broadus and his friend left the club. Police are not identifying Broadus' friend because he may have been the target of the shooter.

Pollando and Councilman Thomas Marcinczyk said the council has given the club's owner, Thomas Beninato, "enough time" to clean up his operation, but his time is up.

"He came before us in July and promised he was going to tighten up security and make sure the parking lot was cleaned up after each night, but he has made no effort to do what he promised," Marcinczyk said.

Marcinczyk said he called the state Attorney General's Office yesterday to ask them to investigate Krome and spoke to an investigator who told him to send all pertinent documents, including police reports, for review.

John Hagerty, a spokesman for the Division of Criminal Justice, said his office will review the documents to determine if "it is appropriate to begin an investigation."

The council revoked the club's liquor license in December 2000 after it found Krome's owners violated 21 municipal codes and liquor license rules in the previous year, including failure to have security guards wear proper clothing, failure to inform the borough that the club's name had been changed from Club Bene to Krome and failure to meet other restrictions on its liquor license.

Beninato, whose family has owned the nightclub for more than 50 years, appealed the council's action but lost.

Beninato did not return messages left at Krome and at his home.

In July, neighbors took matters into their own hands and invited the mayor and council one Friday night to witness the parking and littering problems they say repeatedly occur when the club is open.

Mayor Kennedy O'Brien, who responded to the call, said at the next council meeting, "If I lived here I'd be raising holy hell."

At the same July council meeting, the council voted to declare the area in Morgan that includes Krome a "redevelopment area," planning to replace the club with age-restricted housing.

Yesterday, O'Brien said he is instituting a new policy Monday -- a zero-tolerance quality of life program that will apply to all businesses in town.

"We have a quality of life standard in Sayreville and we will enforce it," O'Brien said. "If you, as a businessman, cross the line and run your business in a way that violates that standard, you will learn that we will not tolerate it."

O'Brien said the owner of Krome has already violated that standard, but he would not provide any details as to what the borough would do to Beninato.

The mayor did say, however, that the borough will have a "pronounced presence" on any day the club is open.


This was published on September 1st, 2004.
By this point, the owners of Club Krome had already considered changing the name of the club back to its original Club Bene tag, and rethinking the format of music to be played at the venue.
Beninato had already said that the hip hop nights - which are pretty much the only time the club has any real problems - were to be stopped and only the type of music that hadn't caused any problems for the venue in the past would be scheduled to play.
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