NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Organizers are paying a steep price after three illegal New Year’s Eve parties were broken up for violating social distancing restrictions.
On Friday night, CBS2’s Cory James learned at least one of those locations may have been attracting crowds for months.
“To see an illegal club like this, and people making money!” James Bruni said.
That money was allegedly being made inside a SoHo penthouse on Prince Street, a place New York City Sheriff’s deputies say they found 145 people dancing and drinking alcohol at an illegal New Year’s Eve bash.
But Bruni, who lives nearby, told CBS2 parties at the spot have been going on for two months.
“On every Thursday, Friday night there’s a bouncer. He takes money here. Kids go upstairs, no masks,” Bruni said.
01/01/21 @ 0100 HRS: Deputy Sheriffs shut down illegal bottle club @ 177 Prince Street, Manhattan: 145+ people, violation of emergency orders, no liquor license, warehousing liquor & health code violations, 4 charged with multiple offenses. pic.twitter.com/qVeQVVslev
— NYC SHERIFF (@NYCSHERIFF) January 1, 2021
Bruni showed James pictures of alleged partygoers standing outside back in November. Another photo captures the exchange of money between a bouncer and someone trying to get in, according to Bruni.
“They are profiteering from this, okay? They’ve got a large space up there. They’ve got a roof terrace and they are throwing parties to make money. Make money, why? Because these kids have no place else to go,” Bruni said.
New York City Sheriff’s officials said the overcrowded illegal bottle club did not have a liquor license and violated health codes.
Three organizers were fined $1,000 and the promoter was ordered to pay $15,000.
But that wasn’t the only party bust. On 46th Street in Brooklyn, 311 complaints came in about an event venue. Deputies said inside were 80 people dancing and smoking hookahs. The organizer was issued two appearance tickets for violating the emergency order and allowing people to gather inside without face coverings, police said.
In Queens, more than 300 people were found celebrating inside a bar and lounge on 58th Street. The owner, his wife, and a DJ received multiple violations and the bar was fined $15,000.
“I can understand wanting to have an outlet, but I think that maybe like 10 people or something like that,” said Jonas Jonasson of the East Village.
However, Bruni said he does not understand why organizers continue to host illegal parties during a pandemic, and at a time when COVID-19 cases are rising.
“They’re giving these kids a false sense of security. They are saying here’s an after-hours clubs that you can come to and you can violate all the rules and it’s right in the center of SoHo,” Bruni said.
James tried speaking with someone who he was told was the organizer of the illegal party that happened there, but he would not comment.
CBS2 was unable to reach the other two organizers.
CBS2’s Cory James contributed to this report
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