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NYPD Refers More Charges Against Gramercy Bar Visana, State Says

 Neighbors say thumping bass from Visana keeps them up until all hours of the night.
Neighbors say thumping bass from Visana keeps them up until all hours of the night.
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GRAMERCY — Troubles just keep getting worse for a Gramercy bar that was busted earlier this year for hosting a party full of underage drinkers.

The State Liquor Authority slapped the owners Visana, a speakeasy-style lounge located behind a pizza shop at 321 First Ave. between East 18th and East 19th streets, with three new violation charges last week after scheduling a hearing against them for a dozen others.

The newest charges accuse the owners of allowing too many people to crowd into the bar and a failure to keep rowdy partiers in check — bringing the total number of violations to 15, according to a list of charges the SLA levied at Visana.

Any one of the alleged violations, which include hiring unlicensed security guards and draining police resources, could be enough for the agency to strip the bar of its license, according to a public records.

The added charges jive with accusations from neighbors, who have been complaining about what they have described as Visana's disruptive presence in the neighborhood since the bar opened last fall.

A hearing for Visana to answer to 12 charges of various violations was scheduled for March 22, but the SLA postponed it after adding several charges to the list based on referrals from the NYPD, according to an agency spokesman.

The new hearing, scheduled for April 13, could bring an end to months of conflict between Visana’s owner David Jaffee and neighbors, who have complained about loud noise and out-of-control crowds keeping them up until all hours of the night.

The list of possible violations shows the bar's owners had trouble following the rules from the beginning. In October last year, Visana violated an agreement the owners made with Community Board 6 by staying open past the agreed-upon 2 a.m., which the board requires in exchange for its support of new nightlife spots.

On Nov. 1, 2015, and on several other dates listed on the SLA's charge sheet, the owners allowed revelers to become rowdy, disrupting the neighborhood, creating too much noise, and drawing police attention, according to the agency.

And on Dec. 5, 2015, investigators found that people were allowed to dance at Visana without a required cabaret license.

The “last straw” for Visana came in late February, when police busted a party full of underage drinkers, according to Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct.

After getting calls from neighbors shortly after 1 a.m. on Feb. 28, police issued seven summonses for underage drinking and arrested on man on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, records show.

David Jaffee — Visana’s owner, a former club promoter and controversial Airbnb “slumlord” who was once labeled one of New York’s “10 most hated people in New York nightlife” — was present during the debacle and broke down outside the lounge as officers cleared the crowd, according to Timoney.

“He was crying out in the street the night that it happened,” Timoney said. “He was crying I think because he got caught.”

Jaffee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.