An Anchorage jury has convicted the owners of former downtown nightclub Rumrunner's Old Towne Bar and Grille and its ex-bouncer of misdemeanor assault.
But with the misdemeanor convictions Tuesday the jury also acquitted ABandM Enterprises, the now-defunct corporation of cousins Abraham and Basilio Gallo, and bouncer Murville Lampkin of felony assault charges.
The case stemmed from a raucous night, one of many at Rumrunner's, police said prior to the club's closing in late 2012. An intoxicated patron, Johnny Brown, was escorted off the dance floor and outside for causing a disturbance. Then bouncers brought him back inside in handcuffs after he punched Lampkin, according to witness testimony.
The head of security at Rumrunner's, George Damassiotis, struck Brown twice with his forearm, another bouncer testified. For that, Damassiotis pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment.
It was in the elevator while taking Brown downstairs that Lampkin landed the blow to Brown's face, prosecutor James Fayette said. A police photo taken after the incident and projected on the courtroom wall showed Brown's left eye swollen shut and his face bruised and bloody.
Later, an officer found what appeared to be deletions on Rumrunner's surveillance video, leading a grand jury to indict ABandM on the evidence tampering charge.
The corporation's lawyer contended that a glitch caused errors in the recording, and an expert witness said it would not have been possible to delete portions of the video. The evidence tampering charges were thrown out before the jury began deliberating.
The deliberations were put on hold for a week because two jurors had to go out of town. The full jury returned to court Monday and announced a verdict Tuesday morning.
But the jury was deadlocked on the assault charge against the corporation, said the jury's foreman. Judge Michael Spaan asked if they needed more time and the foreman said yes, so the jurors returned to deliberate some more.
By afternoon, they were ready and delivered the guilty verdicts.
Kevin Fitzgerald, the lawyer for ABandM, said he disagreed with the jury instructions that, he said, made it unreasonably easy to convict his corporation's client based on its employee's unsolicited actions. Still, Fitzgerald said, they had been facing felonies in the beginning and ended with the single, less-serious misdemeanor conviction.
"Admittedly, it's a thorny issue, corporate liability," Fitzgerald said. "Obviously, I'm disappointed when the client, as represented through Abraham and Basilio (Gallo), that the corporation is found guilty of any liability. They're disappointed but recognizing as well that it could have been a lot worse."
Lawyers on both sides said the jurors must have decided the punch by Lampkin did not cause Brown's most serious injuries. Brown has a pending lawsuit against ABandM and Gallo.
Fayette said he was satisfied with the verdict, even after a lengthy investigation, two weeks of trial and just two misdemeanor convictions as a result.
"These are some complex legal issues here," Fayette said. "There's such a thing as good corporate citizenship. That's an obligation of running a big business, downtown Anchorage or anywhere."
"I'm not disappointed. The jury sorts it out. We accept their wisdom."
Upon exiting the courtroom, Lampkin, the ex-bouncer, declined to comment.
By CASEY GROVE