GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The administrative judge hearing a case involving the suspension of The Blind Tiger’s ABC permits in the wake of a deadly shooting recused himself on Friday, according to the Greensboro News and Record.
A co-owner of the Greensboro bar and concert venue alleged that Judge Jonathan S. Dills had a conflict of interest.
Future proceedings in The Blind Tiger’s case will be heard by Judge David Sutton, according to the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings.
The Blind Tiger’s ABC permits were suspended after police say 19-year-old Pedro Alegria was fatally shot by a bouncer in the club’s parking lot in July.
Blind Tiger owner Bradford McCauley, 47, of Winston-Salem, has since been charged with failing to superintend and hiring unlicensed armed security. Manager Donald Beck Jr., 55, of Greensboro, was charged with allowing violations to occur on the ABC-licensed premises and hiring unlicensed armed security.
Security contractor Jason Leonard, 28, — who was earlier charged with second-degree murder in connection to the shooting — and Anthony Delaney, 28, both of Greensboro, were charged with providing unlicensed armed security and allowing violations to occur on the ABC-licensed premises.
The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission suspended the ABC permits for the venue in August after ABC officials reviewed affidavits submitted by NC ALE special agents and officers of the Greensboro Police Department.
Earlier this month, the Blind Tiger filed a motion asking the courts to issue a stay of the suspension and grant a temporary restraining order to prevent ALE from enforcing the suspension.
Judge Jonathan Dills denied that request, saying that the Blind Tiger team did not do enough to argue its case for loss of revenue or that ALE overstepped its boundaries.
This case was not the first time Dills and the owner of the Blind Tiger have met. While working in private practice, Dills worked in a law office above a downtown Winston-Salem nightclub, according to a verified notice filed Wednesday.
McCauley, who owned and operated Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem at the time, reportedly approached Dills to ask about renting the space.
“Judge Dills told Mr. McCauley that he did not like the way Mr. McCauley ran his business, and he was not interested in renting that nightclub space to Mr. McCauley,” the notice said.
The Blind Tiger also said Dills previously worked for Charles Womack, former owner of the now-defunct nightclub MOD in Winston-Salem and current owner of the local news outlet Yes Weekly. Womack was once McCauley’s business partner, the notice says, but the two have since turned rivals.
According to the notice, Womack hired Dills to assist in a legal dispute and later hired him on retainer.
The Blind Tiger claims that Womack “exerted political and other pressure on the Mayor of Greensboro and others to force them to do whatever is necessary to ‘shut down’ the Blind Tiger.” It also accused Womack of using his power as owner of Yes Weekly to “effectuate public pressure, outcry and false statements in the media and otherwise about the Blind Tiger and Mr. McCauley.”
In turn, the venue’s legal team claimed that Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan “exerted political power and influence in recent weeks and months, also wrongfully disparaging The Blind Tiger and Mr. McCauley. Mayor Vaughan has, in effect, scapegoated the Blind Tiger in an effort to divert the public’s attention from the skyrocketing violent crime in Greensboro due, in great part, to the lack of support for the Greensboro Police Department.”
The Blind Tiger’s legal team stated its intent to subpoena “many” city officials and other figures in the city, including Womack and Vaughan.