Baltimore liquor commissioners suspend license of Block business; Circus Bar doorman sold cocaine, city police say; transactions on video


The city liquor board suspended yesterday the liquor license of the Circus Bar on Baltimore's notorious Block because of narcotics violations.

The Board of Liquor License Commissioners ordered Shelley and Jules Gordon, the owners of the Circus Bar in the 400 block of E. Baltimore St., to sell the establishment's liquor license in 90 days.

The Gordons may keep their adult entertainment license and remain in business.

But they may not sell liquor, effectively immediately, the board said.

The board's action came after more than a year of police surveillance during which videotapes were compiled showing the Circus Bar's former doorman, Harry Miller, engaged in several sales of cocaine.

Officer Charles Lloyd, who was part of the surveillance team, said he regularly bought cocaine -- a total of nearly 50 grams -- from Miller.

The transactions sometimes took place in plain view of the Central District's drug unit office, police said.

"From the windows of the police department, we could watch several drug transactions," said Lt. John R. Bailey, Central District operations commander. "It was blatant."

The drug unit had 30 hours of videotape as evidence.

In testimony before the board, Miller said that he has pleaded guilty to 13 counts of drug distribution and has cooperated with police in an undercover investigation of drug trafficking at the Circus Bar.

Miller, who now works as a doorman at the Stage Door on the Block, said he will be sentenced in December.

Dealing drugs was "part of my duties," Miller said.

Frank Boston III, attorney for the Gordons, argued that Miller's statements should be discounted because he is facing a prison term. He added that there were no corroborating witnesses to the offenses.

Boston said his clients plan to appeal the board's decision in Circuit Court.

Jules Gordon told the board that he had no idea that Miller had been arrested, much less that he was dealing drugs and cooperating with the police.

He said he had been friendly to his doorman -- who described himself as "the best on The Block" -- and given him clothes for his family.

Gordon said that he frequently helped police keep order on the unruly Block.

His testimony did not sway the board, which concluded that Gordon knew -- or should have known -- about drug dealing in his bar.

Board chairman Leonard Skolnik said the panel regarded it as a "very serious matter."

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