Attorney claimed The Office self-reported, despite NEA Report breaking the story
Former ABC Director Langley represented The Office
JONESBORO, Ark. – With a straight face, the attorney for the owner of The Office Sports Bar and Grill claimed on Thursday evening his client had taken full responsibility and had self-reported to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board after a video surfaced showing a stripper pole dancing during a party.
At best, this statement was misleading.
If the establishment really did self-report, it was already after ABC knew about it and after NEA Report had questioned the ABC director who said she was planning, herself, on reporting the incident to ABC enforcement when we got off the phone with her.
Thursday night’s meeting of the Public Safety Committee meeting was called to address The Office, specifically. On January 23, NEA Report first published the story regarding possible violations The Office may have had committed with ABC, the most egregious of which was the performance of a nude stripper on a stripper pole in the establishment and under the supervision of management. Since Jonesboro and Craighead County are dry municipalities, a privilege permit to serve alcohol comes with several strict requirements. When we interviewed ABC Administration Director Mary Robin Casteel in January, she said The Office not only didn’t have permission for a stripper pole, or a stripper (obviously), but they didn’t even have permission for live music.
“The proper protocol is for this to go to ABC Enforcement,” Casteel said. “They would conduct an investigation and if they found what they see as violations, they would report that to ABC for adjudication, fines, actions against the permit, and that’s when I would get involved. But obviously, based on what you’re telling me, I will be getting in touch with ABC Enforcement.”
It was the first time the ABC director had learned of the incident. Per her statement, she was reporting The Office to ABC Enforcement.
This clashes with statements made by Attorney Michael Langley on behalf of his client, Keith Hendrix, Thursday night. Langley, a former ABC Administration Director himself, said Hendrix had taken “full responsibility” for the incident and had “self-reported” the incident to ABC Enforcement. He also portrayed a different tone from that of the Hendrix who spoke with NEA Report on January 23.
“And now it’s just the competitors and people who are jealous and assume,” Hendrix began explaining in January, shifting blame from himself to his competitors.
In addition, Hendrix seemed to place blame for his mistakes on this reporter during his conversation with others. One musician who had his act canceled at The Office echoed Hendrix’s avoidance of responsibility by blaming this reporter for a “formality” which we reported.
Despite significant evidence pointing to the contrary, Langley claimed his client was taking full responsibility for what happened and was sorry. All throughout Langley speaking, Hendrix could be seen rubbing his face and appearing to be exerted.
Langley told the committee the bar had fired the manager who was on duty during the evening of the stripping incident and said the entire staff would be participating in training in April to ensure compliance with ABC rules and regulations. He also said The Office had paid a $3,000 fine to ABC over the incident.
Alderman David McClain questioned Langley on the incident, how long it lasted, and who hired the stripper but other members of the committee were mostly silent. One exception was Alderman Chris Moore, who was vocal in his assertion that probation seemed to be harsh enough. Moore made the motion which was eventually taken to levy the punishment on The Office. By unanimous vote of those present, the committee agreed to place The Office on probation for a period of one year. Should any city ordinance or ABC provisions be violated during the year, Attorney Carol Duncan said Hendrix would lose his privilege license for a period of five years.
After the meeting adjourned, Langley walked to Moore to shake his hand and thank him. We unintentionally captured this moment on camera as we began asking Langley about his statements regarding The Office “self-reporting.” He said he had no comment and quickly hurried out of the council chambers.
We spoke with Moore afterwards. He told NEA Report to his knowledge, he had no past experiences with either Hendrix or Langley.