Nov 172004
Authors: Adam EbnerBy Adam Ebne

Fort Collins' music and club fans might have their limited options further constrained in the next week, as the Starlight might have to close its doors for good.

The club, 167 N. College Ave., was cited for numerous violations that came quickly and often earlier this month, and its alcohol license has been temporarily suspended as a result.

The Starlight received a suspension on Nov. 9 after it had a string of events that included refusal of entry to law enforcement and a 911 call hours later regarding a possible overdose of Starlight manager, James Sargent. Judge Kathleen Lane issued the suspension, which is in effect until Monday, and will make a further determination on the club's ability to provide alcohol to patrons next week.

Alcohol/tobacco enforcement officer Bob Younger of Fort Collins Police Services said the club has been recently cited on separate occasions for incidents that violated state laws. He said the club has lost its right to sell alcohol because of these violations.

The most recent violations occurred Nov. 5 as Younger was responding to a call in the early morning hours based on possible violations. When he arrived, he was denied entry to the club by its owner.

"At that point I noticed people exiting through the back, and (the club) was cited accordingly," Younger said.

Later that same evening, 911 operators were contacted regarding a potential drug overdose at the Starlight. Younger said that the person involved was Sargent, husband of Starlight owner Melissa Laugen. Younger's initial suspicion was the presence and possible usage of cocaine and heroin, although he could not be certain.

Whether or not fans will see another event at the club depends largely on the hearing's outcome. Lane will have to decide whether to continue a temporary suspension, reinstate the license or revoke the club's right to distribute alcohol altogether.

This comes as a blow to a club looking to make a positive change in lieu of incidents that degraded its reputation earlier this year. The Starlight's previous owner, Eric Rabinowitz, was accused of sexual assault this past summer. Facing pressure and a shrinking clientele of promoters, he sold the club to Laugen in August.

The numerous incidents coming within a short period of time place the owners in a difficult situation. The Starlight is one of a small handful of venues that runs concert events on a regular basis in Fort Collins.

The Starlight's owner could not be reached, and the club's phone number has since been disconnected.

Krista Cagney, a senior technical journalism and Spanish major, has seen shows at the club and said she would hate to see the venue close.

"The shows there were fun and it would be a shame if they had to shut it down," Cagney said. "Hopefully they can find a new owner to take over if it were to lose its license and break out of its developing pattern."

The hearing for the Starlight will take place at 1:30 p.m. Monday in the Municipal Court, 201 LaPorte Ave. The court is open to the public.


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