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Mobtown Beat

Sonar Set for New Owners

Public hearing on license transfer scheduled for Aug. 2

Photo: Mel Guapo, License: N/A

Mel Guapo

Moving trucks outside sonar in May 2011, the first time the nightclub was shut down

The prospective new owners of the shuttered Sonar nightclub downtown are scheduled for an Aug. 2 public hearing before the Baltimore City Liquor License Board, which will consider whether to transfer the club’s license from its current owners, led by majority stockholder Daniel McIntosh, to Eagle Entertainment, LLC, with Brian Winfield as the licensee.

Eagle Entertainment’s attorney, Neal Janey, declined to answer questions about the status of the application and the nature of the entertainment the new owners hope to provide, but promised to forward word of City Paper’s request to his clients, who had not responded by press time. Two other attorneys involved in the proposed transaction, Gary Maslan and Melvin Kodenski, did not respond to CP’s inquiries.

Janey has asserted that the pending application would be withdrawn and a new one filed involving a separate company (“Future of Sonar in Doubt,” Mobtown Beat, July 18), but that has not happened. According to liquor board records, Winfield owns 80 percent of Eagle Entertainment’s stock, with the rest held by Milton Tillman III, and no changes have been made to the application, which was first filed on June 27.

Tillman III, who is also known as Mo, is a controversial figure. He and his father were charged in a sprawling white-collar crime investigation involving their bailbonds business and taxes and both pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court last year. Tillman III’s plea deal involved taking the rap for a single count of failing to file taxes, for which he was put on probation for five years and ordered to pay $12,500 in restitution. The Tillmans’ alleged significance as players in Baltimore’s drug trade was aired in open court in 2002 by assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan Luna, who was prosecuting a case involving a drug gang whose members shot Tillman III. Luna’s violent death in 2003 remains a mystery.

Winfield has strong business ties to the Tillmans. A former mortgage broker with a vending-machine and catering-equipment rental company, he also worked for the Baltimore City Department of Finance from May 2009 until Aug. 2010. According to Baltimore City Board of Estimates records, he earned $29,049 a year, at $15.24 per hour, as a license inspector for the department’s Bureau of Revenue Collections, conducting spot checks on licensed business such as “gas stations, pawnbrokers, open-air garages, massage parlors, theaters, skating rinks, bars, clubs, restaurants, movie houses, and amusement arcades.” In 2008, Winfield applied to be on the liquor license for a Tillman-owned bar called Lucky’s Tavern (“Creative Licensing,” Mobtown Beat, April 9, 2008), at 1601 N. Milton Ave., in East Baltimore.

McIntosh, meanwhile, has held back on issuing a promised statement about what happened at Sonar that prompted its sudden closure after a show on July 8. On Sonar’s Facebook page on July 18, he posted an announcement promising “at some point” to tell “this whole story,” but he quoted his attorney as advising him that “there’s an old saying about not pissing off the alligators until you’ve crossed the swamp.” McIntosh is a defendant on a massive pot-dealing conspiracy case in federal court (“Smoked Out,” Mobtown Beat, Feb. 29) and is scheduled to stand trial in September, and Sonar has been implicated in the case (“Feds Name Drop Baltimore’s Sonar Nightclub in New Pot Conspiracy Indictmnet,” The News Hole, May 4).

“Very soon there will come a time when I just have nothing left to lose and I will be getting the whole story out there,” McIntosh vowed in his Facebook announcement.

Eagle Entertainment’s Aug. 2 hearing before the liquor board is scheduled for 3 P.M. and will take place in Baltimore City Hall, Room 215.

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