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November 14, 2013

Methuen suspends license for Sahara Club

After fatal shooting, numerous violations came to light

METHUEN — The club that was the scene of a fatal shooting late last month will be closed indefinitely after numerous violations of its operating agreement came to light at an hours-long meeting Wednesday evening.

The Sahara Club’s private club license was suspended indefinitely by a unanimous vote of the Licensing Board Wednesday after a meeting in which dozens of residents living in the neighborhood around the club spoke about years of problems. A representative for the club and the Lebbos family, which has owned and operated it since the early 1990s, spoke as well.

According to people at the meeting, the Sahara violated several parts of a 1995 memorandum that outlined operating restrictions, including security protocols and how it keeps and maintains a members list and a nightly guest list.

John MacLeod, chairman of the Licensing Board, said he asked the owners to appear at Wednesday’s meeting because of the Oct. 23 fatal shooting outside the club, which operates in a residential neighborhood on Oak Street.

“The shooting brought up a series of questions, and that’s when the violations came out,” MacLeod said.

David Rivera, 28, 246 Farnham St., Lawrence, was shot multiple times on Greendale Street near the Sahara Club at about 1 a.m. Oct. 23, and died a short time later.

Police have not made any arrests in the shooting. Chief Joseph Solomon did not return a voice message seeking comment yesterday.

William Amann, an attorney with offices in Manchester, N.H., and North Andover who represented the Sahara, said the club wants to work with the city and the neighborhood to address their concerns.

“We’ve agreed to meet with chief of police, the fire chief, Mr. MacLeod, and the community representative,” Amann said yesterday. “We want their input.”

The community representative is David DiZazzo, a resident of the neighborhood who for more than 20 years has rallied neighbors to reign in what they said were years of violations, including inadequate security, parking problems, fighting and noise.

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