PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The R.I. Supreme Court has declined to reopen the Foxy Lady for the time being, a decision that may keep the prominent strip club closed until at least January.
The ruling from Justice Francis Flaherty to deny the Foxy Lady’s motion to stay the enforcement of the Providence Board of Licenses’ revocation of the club’s adult entertainment license means it cannot the conduct the kind of business that has made it one of the region’s most well-known nightlife establishments.
The licensing board voted 3-1 on Wednesday to revoke all of the club’s business licenses after three women were charged with misdemeanors Dec. 11 for allegedly soliciting undercover Providence police officers for sex inside the club. The club has been closed since the arrests.
Mayor Jorge Elorza has accused management at the Foxy Lady of running a “full-on prostitution ring,” citing the police department. No one other than the women have been charged in connection with the investigation.
The R.I. Department of Business Regulation held a hearing on the club’s appeal of its liquor license revocation Friday afternoon, but a decision won’t be issued until next week. If DBR agrees to stay enforcement of the revocation, the club would be eligible to reopen as a standard bar without adult entertainment.
The Supreme Court has placed the rest of the club’s appeal on its conference calendar beginning Jan. 3. The court can reconsider its decision on the stay request at that time.
Fausto Anguilla, an attorney for the club, appealed the decision to both the Supreme Court – which handles entertainment license appeals– and the Department of Business Regulation, the state agency that rules on liquor license matters.
The club is also represented by George Santopietro, James Lepore, Dean Robinson, and Artin Coloian.
In the appeal to the Supreme Court, Anguilla argued the board’s decision “was patently arbitrary, discriminatory, and unfair.” The appeal accused the board of ignoring its policy on progressive discipline, which is designed to offer harsher punishment to businesses that are often accused of wrongdoing. He said the Foxy Lady has had one violation in nearly 40 years prior to the prostitution arrests.
Anguilla also argued that the economic harm to the club as a result of the closure “is so great, and increasing, that it will not be able to recover from it, making any possibility of an adequate remedy at law in the form of financial compensation unattainable.”
Anguilla has said the club employs more than 200 workers,
The city is represented by solicitors Mario Martone and Stephen Ryan. The licensing board is representing by Lou DeSimone.
At DBR meeting, both parties (Foxy Lady & City) have said they’ve come to an agreement about a POSSIBILITY of opening with just a liquor license and operating basically as a night club but without adult entertainment. BUT no DBR decision will be made today. @wpri12— Kait Walsh (@KaitLouiseWalsh) December 21, 2018
Gullivers Tavern (Foxy Lady) Attorney says his client has had no problems in the past. “Every day that we don’t have a liquor license we are losing a substantial amount of money…people without jobs.” @wpri12— Kait Walsh (@KaitLouiseWalsh) December 21, 2018
Foxy Lady Attorney Lepore: 225 people that earn their living over there. Many on tips. Many work in parking lots and kitchens. Work for pay week to week. These people are all out of work before Christmas. “This is irreparable harm.” Asking for progressive discipline. @wpri12— Kait Walsh (@KaitLouiseWalsh) December 21, 2018
Attorney Lepore: Give us the stay. It will open in a different way (no adult ent.). But could still be “best bar” in Rhode Island. Asking DBR to make decision today if possible because Foxy Lady has “biggest weekend” and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day coming up. @wpri12— Kait Walsh (@KaitLouiseWalsh) December 21, 2018