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Club is subject of state inquiry

Authorities are considering criminal charges after confiscating liquor that may not have been taxed. No arrests have been made yet.


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 11, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- State beverage agents are investigating a nightclub owned by a member of a city advisory board and are considering criminal charges, a state spokesman said last week.

Agents from the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Tuesday night entered the Carvon Club, 4834 18th Ave. S, and seized an undetermined amount of liquor that may have been purchased without the proper tax being paid.

There were no arrests, and Carvon owner Lincoln Morehead, a member of the city's golf course advisory committee, said the club remains open.

"There's not a lot I can (say) at this point," said Judd Bagley, a spokesman for the Department of Business Regulation, which oversees ABT. "It's an ongoing investigation, so there's not a lot that's public."

An agent conducted an inspection in the club and saw liquor that "might have been obtained illegally where Florida law is concerned," Bagley said.

"We are investigating them from an administrative standpoint and considering any possible criminal violations that may have taken place on the part of both the establishment and the main corporate officer, Lincoln Morehead," Bagley said.

Morehead, 59, said late last week that the ABT action focused on a part of the club he leases to a catering operation.

"They just got it mixed up," Morehead said about the agents. "They went into the catering section and confiscated" some liquor.

"We don't have anything to with that part of the place," Morehead said.

"(Agents) called me, and I just came down there," he said. "I really don't know what (agents) took. I really haven't been affiliated with this place since December."

Curtis Carter, who runs the catering operation, declined to comment. He referred questions to Morehead, who is listed in state records as president of the Carvon Men's Club.

Law enforcement have been called to the club before. Since Jan. 1, St. Petersburg police have responded 22 times to complaints or requests for assistance at the club, according to police records. Complaints include seven for noise nuisances and one each for a possible narcotics law violation, brawling and an aggravated assault.

Morehead was arrested last summer at the club. He was charged on July 6 with distributing a controlled substance and for having unregistered coin-operated pool tables and dart games at the club. He pleaded no contest to the controlled substance charge, and adjudication was withheld. He also pleaded no contest to the unregistered coin-operated machine charge and paid a $50 fine.

Arrested at the same time and charged with trafficking in and possessing controlled substances was Curtis Graham, 33. He pleaded guilty, paid a $408 fine and received 18 months probation.

Both men told police Morehead gave Graham prescription pills for a toothache.

"It was actually my own medicine," Morehead said last week.

The arrests occurred after St. Petersburg police got a tip that illegal gambling and narcotics violations were taking place at the club, according to police reports

When officers went inside the building, they found 20-25 men playing dominoes and pool. Some had $2,000 to $3,000 with them, police said. Several bags of marijuana also were found in the bar.

Ownership of the marijuana could not be determined, and no charges were filed in connection with it, nor were any gambling charges filed.

The Carvon Club was in the news last December when police were called there to investigate the shooting of 33-year-old Herbert Mole Jr. Mole, who had several gunshot wounds, was lying on the ground outside the club. He died later at Bayfront Medical Center.

A homicide investigation into that case continues, the police said last week.

The Carvon Club, whose patrons must be members, has operated since the early 1980s. It sponsors an annual golf tournament at the city-owned Mangrove Bay golf club and has in the past conducted youth golf programs.

For several years, Morehead has been a member of the city's golf course committee, which does not set policy but makes recommendations on how to improve city courses. Board members serve three-year terms and are appointed by the mayor after being nominated by other board members.

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