York County bail-bonding agent accused of running speakeasy at hookah lounge
A local bail-bonding agent is accused of running a speakeasy out of the York City hookah lounge he owns, but his attorney said he wasn't illegally selling alcohol.
Brandon Marquette, 38, of Dover Township, faces the misdemeanor offenses of unlawful acts relative to liquor and unlawful acts relative to malt or brewed beverages, court records state.
His preliminary hearing had been set for Thursday but was postponed and will be rescheduled, according to the office of District Judge James Morgan.
"It is my position that the club and Mr. Marquette adhered to the law and never engaged in the sale of alcohol in violation of the statute," defense attorney Chris Ferro told The York Dispatch. "I'm hopeful that this continuance will give the necessary parties time to confirm that, and that this case will be ripe to be resolved when we return to the district magistrate."
State police spokesperson Ryan Tarkowski confirmed that the charges lodged against Marquette "are associated with what we refer to as a 'speakeasy' or unlicensed operation."
According to charging documents, an officer with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement began investigating the lounge after receiving a complaint that the Post Office Social Lounge in the 500 block of Maryland Avenue was purportedly providing free alcohol to patrons after they paid a $25 cover charge.
Undercover visit: The undercover liquor-enforcement officer went to the lounge about 11 p.m. July 24 and was admitted after his identification was scanned by a bouncer, after his temperature was checked and after he went through a standing metal detector, documents state.
He paid the $25 cover charge, asked what that came with and was told it covered hookah and entertainment, prompting him to ask if he paid for alcohol, according to charging documents, which state he was told all alcohol was complimentary.
Once seated, he ordered a drink called a Miami lemonade and asked how much it cost. He was told by a server that alcohol was complimentary, but tipping was encouraged, police said.
The drink list included liquor, wine and beer, charging documents state.
He had to pay an additional $30 to smoke from a hookah, according to charging documents.
Second visit: The undercover officer returned to the Post Office Social Lounge the next night and again went through security screening, after which he told the host, "I just want to have a drink tonight, I don't want to smoke hookah," and asked if he was still required to pay the cover charge, documents state.
The host said the $25 must still be paid because it covered entertainment in the form of a DJ playing music, police said.
The officer asked if he could pay by the drink and was told there was no charge for alcohol, documents state.
The lounge doesn't have a liquor license, police said.
It remains open for business but is currently not serving or providing alcohol, according to Ferro.
The Post Office Social Lounge's Facebook page describes it as having a diverse atmosphere and offering hookah, live music, karaoke, DJs, "free adult beverages & more."
Marquette is a bail-bonding agent with PA Bail Bonds, located in the 200 block of South George Street in York City, according to a list of approved bail agencies in York County.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.