A contractor that built a popular Hollywood nightclub has been charged with violating fire codes and allowing overcrowding that put lives in danger.
The Los Angeles City Attorney's office said Friday that the 17 charges stem from several incidents at supperclub los angeles, including when fire inspectors shut it down last summer.
Prosecutors said that on June 17, 2012, the club, which has a 553-person capacity, was holding nearly twice as many people as was deemed safe.
Housed in the old Vogue Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, the nightclub is a mix of food, music, performances and art.
Prosecutors said the venue also had illegal fireworks, several blocked exits and a trapeze artist swinging from the ceiling over the overcrowded dance floor, prosecutors said.
The club had apparently been ordered to cease use of both the trapeze artist and the illegal fireworks.
LA resident Rodrigo Ortiz told NBC4 that when the nightclub is crowded, "it’s wall to wall."
"Some of my friends are afraid to speak out because they don't want to be blackballed from the Hollywood scene," Ortiz said.
The charges come a week after a nightclub fire in Brazil left 235 people dead. Investigators found that the Brazilian club did not have the proper fire-safety devices in place to protect its patrons.
Nightclub management on Friday night released a statement (the full text of which is included below) saying they are working with Los Angeles police and fire officials to make sure a deadly incident like the one in Brazil does not happen in Hollywood.
Full statement released Friday by supperclub los angeles:
supperclub is an international brand that started in Europe over 20 years ago with a total of six venues worldwide – Amsterdam, Alacati, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Istanbul. supperclub los angeles practices safe business practices and has been welcoming happy, satisfied dinner and nightclub guests each week since 2010. Responding to an LA Weekly article on supperclub los angeles earlier today, supperclub has never had an incident of a fire tragedy at our venue upon opening.
supperclub is a healthy and thriving business with a staff of 119 active employees and over 200 independent contracted employees. We take the safety of our supperclub family and extended family of guests very seriously. All our curtains and soundproof material are class 1/A fire retardant. Building a brand new venue in Hollywood, our sprinkler and fire extinguishing systems are up to code with the Los Angeles Fire Department and gets routine check ups by the service provider. supperclub outsources a top security company that stations personnel at all fire exits and employees an EMT representative every night we are open to quickly respond to any emergency. Jerry Garcia, co-owner and spokesperson for supperclub stated tonight that we pride ourselves in providing extraordinary customer service in a safe environment to our patrons. Mr. Garcia would also like to acknowledge that the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Fire Department have been working with management in making sure nothing like the tragedy in Brazil ever happens in our establishment, let alone in Hollywood.
The criminal complaint that has been apparently filed against those whom the L.A. city attorney’s claims to be the supperclub’s owner is facially incorrect. Demitri Samaha, one of supperclub’s contractors that built the venue, Rose Samaha, Demitri’s 85-year old year mother, and Caroline Braidi, a 53-year old widow are not related to supperclub's management team. These people are dismayed in the claims made to the alleged acquisitions.