State says Karaoke club responsible for stabbings

Five stabbed at notorious KTV karaoke club
Photo by Alice Proujansky

State officials slapped owners of a notorious 62nd Street karaoke club — where an Aug. 5 knife fight left five people hospitalized — with more than a dozen violations last Wednesday, the first step in a process that could end with the controversial nightspot losing its liquor license, and possibly going out of business.

Management at the club, Crown KTV on 64th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, let rowdy partiers get out of hand and is responsible for the stabbings, according to Michael Jones, deputy chief executive officer of the State Liquor Authority, and club owners are being cited for 13 violations over the past six months, including allowing marijuana on the premises, allowing underage drinking, allowing dancing without a cabaret license, breaking noise laws, and not properly displaying their licenses.

The law says nightclub owners are responsible for violence if a fight begins inside a club and spills into the streets, according to a city code that makes management culpable for disorderly conduct “in the area in front of or adjacent to the licensed premises.”

The loss of the liquor license could be the death knell for the club — where thirsty patrons drink booze while they sing songs in private party booths — that has been a lightning rod of controversy since before it was begrudgingly approved by Community Board 10 in September of 2009.

Back then, owners promised to adhere to a 12-point safety plan that demanded the club observe all music and noise regulations, employ two security guards from 8 pm to 4 am, only admit patrons over age 21, install a video surveillance system, eschew velvet ropes or other sidewalk obstructions, involve no outside promoters, and never use the words “music club” or “night club” on its sign.

“We took a strong position against the club from the start; we don’t often do that,” said CB10 Chairwoman Joanne Seminara. “The size, the noise — it all adds together to create a menace to the neighborhood.”

Last August, cops raided the club and allegedly found underage drinking and drugs rampant — including a man caught snorting cocaine right off the bar, but a judge threw out most of the charges.

Eric Zheng, the club’s manager, did not respond to a request for comment, but told us on Aug. 16 that his bouncers sent the warring parties packing down separate avenues after breaking up a fight over a $500 gambling debt that started inside the club.

“We probably could have done better,” Zheng admitted. “By the time we got out there, the fight was over.”

But Captain Richard DiBlasio, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, said Zheng didn’t do enough.

“The security could have done a much better job than they did,” said DiBlasio. “It happened right out front, it’s not like it happened a mile away.”

An administrative law judge still has to review the evidence and establish if the state has a case, Jones said. Zheng has until Sept. 28 to respond to the charges. If a judge buys Zheng’s story, he could be off the hook.

On the night of the fight, cops arrested Chun He Lin, 41, of Sunset Park, for stabbing five people outside the club, and for possession of the drug Ketamine — an animal tranquilizer.

The state says the owners of Crown KTV, whose manager is Eric Zheng, are responsible for stabbings that occurred outside the club.
Community Newspaper Group / Dan MacLeod