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Controversial Nightclub Roam Hit With $20,000 in Fines

By Jill Colvin | August 1, 2011 7:16am

FLATIRON — A Flatiron District nightclub linked to two execution-style murders is at risk of losing its liquor license after amassing nearly $20,000 in violation fines.

Roam, at 5. E. 19th Street, has had residents concerned since two Brooklyn men were shot in the head after leaving the high-end club in the early morning hours of October 4 last year.

The incident, which police said was gang-related, sparked fears that local residents were at risk.

Additional concerns about how the club was managed prompted Community Board 5 to pass a resolution asking the State Liquor Authority to revoke the club’s liquor license when it came up for renewal — a recommendation the body did not heed, citing a lack of evidence and no police complaints.

But now the SLA is warning that the club’s days could be numbered for repeated violations of state liquor laws.

According to state records, the club has amassed a whopping $17,500 in fines for violations ranging from repeatedly failing to post required signs to noise violations, dating back to 2007. On May 4, the bar was fined again, this time being hit with $3,500 for unauthorized renovations.

“If the licensee continues down this path of not following our rules, it could lead to cancellation of their license," said Michael Smith, a spokesman for the SLA who described the pattern of behavior as “very serious.”

If the latest fine, which was due by July 22, is not paid immediately, Smith said the authority will begin revocation procedures.

The bar is also awaiting a disciplinary hearing concerning the alleged use of two unlicensed security guards in January, 2010 — another serious offense, Smith said.

While violations are not rare, Smith said that most bars in the city operate without amassing fines from the SLA.

But Roam owner Raymond Lin, who has long maintained that the shootings were an isolated incident that had nothing to do with his club,  dismissed the most recent violation as a misunderstanding and said he hadn't realized he needed the SLA’s permission to proceed.  

“The change was quite minor,” he said, describing the work, which was completed about two years ago, as “mostly cosmetic.”

In addition to re-upholstering a couch and adding new curtains, mirrors and blinking lights, Lin said he straightened the bar so it didn't jut out as much into the space and lowered a small elevated section he'd originally envisioned as a VIP area.

“We thought people might trip over that,” he explained.

He said that once he was informed of the mistake during a recent inspection, he worked with the SLA to reach a settlement that he has agreed to pay, despite the rough business climate.

“Everything’s tough right now,” he said.  "I just want to put that behind [us].”

But Susan Finley, a long-time resident in the neighborhood and the co-director of the Flatiron Alliance, said that even if Roam continues to cause problems, she has little faith the SLA will ever shut them down.

She said they should have been shuttered immediately after the shootings.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” she said.