CONCORD — A federal judge has dismissed a civil suit filed by the owner of a Gilford strip club against the New Hampshire Drug Task Force for actions they took during a drug raid in October of 2011.
The court found that the NHDTF and its now-retired Commander James Norris are are an "arm of the state" and entitled to 11th Amendment protections.
Williard Drew filed suit against the NHDTF and its agents for allowing the members of the the Town of Gilford (also named) including selectmen – Gus Benevides, Kevin Hayes (ret), and John O'Brien (ret) – Code Enforcement Officer Dave Andrade and Town Administrator Scott Dunn into the building during the drug raid claiming their presence at the police action went beyond the scope of the warrant.
At the time, Drew owned the property but the night club, Mardi Gras North LLC, was being operated by a different company that was in his building and over which he had no direct management role.
Drew was cited by the Liquor Commission for a number of violations but was found responsible for three minor infractions and was fined a total of $350.
In the portion of the suit with claims against the Town of Gilford and Dunn and the members of the Board of Selectmen, individually and collectively, Drew said in the wake of the drug raid, Dunn, in conjunction with the board of selectmen, interfered with his ability to reopen a club under his own management by presenting a list of 12 questions regarding his exotic dancing application with questions related to matters that were dismissed by the N.H. Liquor Commission.
The suit also claims that the Board of Selectmen defamed Drew by publishing false statements saying the premises were being used for illegal activity, specifically the manufacture, possession, use and sale of illegal drugs and that these were "widely available" there when it knew it wasn't true.
The defamation suit argues that the board also published statements saying it was concerned because of the "'discovery of a variety of components that are commonly used in the illegal manufacturing of methamphetamine, along with residues thereof.'"
The case against the Town of Gilford and its employees and Selectboard continues.
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