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Anchorage restaurateurs slapped with $250K fine for misdemeanor assault

Jerzy Shedlock

The corporation behind the now-defunct downtown nightspot Rumrunners Old Towne Bar and Grille and a former bouncer were sentenced Friday in Anchorage Superior Court, each for a single count of misdemeanor assault. Both defendants were found guilty in February.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Spaan sentenced bouncer Murville Lampkin to two months in jail and two years of probation for the fourth-degree assault charge. Lampkin was also ordered to pay an undetermined amount of restitution.

AB&M Enterprises -- the company that ran the bar operated by cousins and Anchorage restaurateurs Abraham and Basilio Gallo -- was fined $250,000. State Prosecutor James Fayette originally asked the court to impose a $250,000 fine with $150,000 suspended. He said the judge imposed a harsher sentence than was requested.

Fayette said the maximum fine a corporation can incur for misdemeanor assault is $500,000. He said judge Spaan offered the Gallos an opportunity to reduce the fine, dollar for dollar, for any money paid in restitution to the assault victim, Johnny Brown.

Fayette has 90 days to submit to the court records of Brown’s medical costs, which his office hasn’t received. He estimates the bills total around $50,000. Additionally, Brown has sued the Gallos and their corporation in civil court. It's set for a May 2015 trial, according to online court records.

Lampkin and AB&M Enterprises were charged after an intoxicated Brown was punched by two bodyguards on October 22, 2011 -- a raucous night, one of many at Rumrunners, police said prior to its closing in late 2012.

Brown was escorted off the dance floor and outside for causing a disturbance. Bouncers brought him back inside after he punched Lampkin, according to court testimony. The head of security at Rumrunners, George Damassiotis, struck Brown twice with his forearm, another bouncer testified. For that, Damassiotis pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in exchange for his testimony at the AB&M trial.

In an interior elevator, headed downstairs, Lampkin landed a blow to Brown's face, Fayette said.

Brown testified he was repeatedly punched in the face in Rumrunners’ basement by Lampkin and Damassiotis. Brown said he still gets headaches as a result of the beating.

Later, an officer found what appeared to be deletions on Rumrunner's surveillance video, leading a grand jury to indict the corporation on an evidence-tampering charge. But that charge was dropped as the case headed to trial in January.

Fayette said he emphasized the Gallos' failure to properly operate their business during the sentencing.

“This case could be used as a business school graduate case study in management failure,” the prosecutor said. “They had no policies in place about calling the police department when they handcuffed a patron … No meaningful investigation into Mr. Brown’s injuries.”

Rumrunner’s also lacked a screening process for its security force, he said. Fayette argued Lampkin shouldn’t have been working as a bouncer.

Lampkin was hired and put in a position of authority despite a lengthy criminal record. The 41-year-old is a three-time felon. He’s spent many years behind bars because of various crimes, including vehicle theft and drug trafficking. His rap sheet also includes multiple minor crimes.

The corporation’s lawyer, Anchorage-based private attorney Kevin Fitzgerald, did not immediately return a call for comment. When the guilty verdict was handed down, Fitzgerald said outside the courtroom he was “disappointed in the regard that the corporation was found liable for anything.” He had argued during the trial that Lampkin’s actions were that of a rogue employee, and the former bouncer was not acting on behalf of the bar when he punched Brown.

The state expects an appeal from AB&M.