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'Illegal Bar' in Midtown Actually a Music Video Set, Owner Claims

By DNAinfo Staff on January 31, 2011 6:59am  | Updated on January 31, 2011 7:33am

Police said they arrested two people at 1674 Broadway on Jan. 9.
Police said they arrested two people at 1674 Broadway on Jan. 9.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — A local talent agent has a bizarre explanation for what was really going on when police raided her studio earlier this month and broke up what they said was an illegal nightclub — claiming it was a very convincing music video set.

Mary Millana, the director of the "Actor’s Group," said she had rented out her studio on the eighth floor of 1674 Broadway for a video shoot by a famous DJ the night of Jan. 9, when police say they raided the place and found drugs, alcohol, weapons and thousands of dollars in cash.

But even though officials say the illegal cache was very real, Millana claims it was all there for show, adding that the bar and DJ booth were fake, and claiming that the security guards were being played by actors.

Police said they busted a photo studio on the eighth floor
Police said they busted a photo studio on the eighth floor
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

"The bar was a prop. It wasn’t even a real bar," she said. "The next thing I know the police think they’re busting this underground magnet."

But police dismissed the woman's account as "baloney."

Special operations Lt. Evan Minogue, who supervises the Midtown North Precinct's cabaret unit, was part of the team that brought down the club, and added that there was "not a chance" that the place was a fake.

"There were no cameras, there were no lights," Minogue said, adding that the materials recovered by police were "real drugs, real money, real alcohol. They were not props."

Officers of Midtown North's cabaret unit first became suspicious of the studio when they spotted a van unloading bottles of liquor and bags of ice into the commercial building just north of West 52nd Street.

"They came back around 3 a.m. and saw limousines and cabs going in," said Deputy Inspector Timothy Beaudette, commanding officer of Midtown North Precinct.

When police got to the eighth floor, they were greeted by the smell of marijuana and an alleged illegal nightclub with about 80 to 100 people partying inside, police said. Hosts were allegedly collecting money at the door and charging for drinks.

"It was a full-scale club going on in there," Beaudette said. "A pop-up, illegal club."

Officers arrested two men at the scene and also seized 30 open bottles of liquor and 12 unopened beers, as well as four bags of a substance believed to be cocaine, a bag of what looked like marijuana and a marijuana cigarette, and at least $2,000 in cash, police said. A test to determine if the drugs are real is still pending, officials said.

Beaudette said he believed his team had shuttered the club on its first or second night in existence.

Millana declined to provide DNAinfo with a copy of her contract with the individuals who had rented the space that night. She named a famous House DJ, but the manager for that DJ says he has no idea what she's talking about and denied that his client was present that night. DNAinfo is witholding the DJ's name because he has not been charged in connection to the incident.

Millana, who was not present the night of the bust and has not been criminally charged, said she plans to fight the case in court.

Police said they arrested the alleged host of the illegal club, 26-year-old Santana Boruch, for the unlicensed sale of alcohol.

They also charged Sean Sentino, 35, who was allegedly working as a security guard that night, on charges of criminal possession of a weapon for a switch blade and an expandable baton, police said.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office said Sentino was eventually given a desk appearance ticket instead.

A third man, aged 34, was given a summons for alleged possession of marijuana, police said.