NEWS

No more booze at strip clubs?

Dan Petrella

Prompted by three deadly incidents since 2005 involving patrons of a strip club near West Chicago, a DuPage County Board member Tuesday proposed a law banning alcohol at adult businesses within the county. 

Jim Zay, R-6th District, of Carol Stream, called on fellow board members to join him in quickly passing the law. State law prohibits strip clubs with full nudity from obtaining liquor licenses but allows patrons to bring their own alcohol to the establishments.

The fatal incidents all revolve around Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club at North Avenue and Powis Road in unincorporated DuPage County near West Chicago.

After leaving the club on May 25, 2005, Wheaton resident Shelley Dogra, then 25 years old, crashed his car into on tree on Indian Knoll Road near West Chicago, authorities said. He lost control of the Nissan Maxima at a curve in the street, slamming into a wooded area. Passengers Marell Charan, 27, and Esther Rao, 22, both of Wheaton, and Nirav Mehta, 28, of Urbana, were killed instantly.

Dogra pleaded guilty in October 2006 to aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in the death of two or more persons and was sentenced to seven years in state prison.

Another fatal car crash occurred on Jan. 4, 2006, when John Homatas, 26, of Wayne drove at a high rate of speed north on Route 25 near Kenyon Road in Kane County, crossing the center line and striking a vehicle driven by April Simmons, 28, of Yorkville.

Simmons, who was eight months pregnant, was returning home from her job in Elgin.

Simmons, her unborn child and Homatas’s passenger, 25-year-old John Chiariello of St. Charles, were killed. Homatas had been drinking at Diamonds prior to the crash, authorities said.

A Kane County jury convicted Homatas June 28 of two counts of reckless homicide, one count of reckless homicide of an unborn child and driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. He was sentenced to 12 years in state prison.

Bradley Justice, 30, of Sandwich, beat pizza delivery driver Karen Hassan to death Nov. 2, 2006, near Diamonds, authorities said. He ordered a pizza from someone else’s cell phone and asked that it be delivered to a lot across the street from the club.

Once there, prosecutors say Justice beat Hassan with a hammer and hid her body underneath a truck.

Zay said the incidents all show why alcohol and strip clubs are a dangerous mix.

“We can’t allow them to have alcohol anymore,” he said. “This is out of control.”

County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom said he has not reviewed the proposed law, but believes the board should take action to prevent future incidents if it can legally do so.

“We know that there’s an issue; we know what the problem is,” Schillerstrom said. “Now we need to find out what, if anything, we can do to rectify it.”

Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club did not return calls for comment.

Chicago Suburban News