Florence club denied license after sheriff protest

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) The South Carolina Department of Revenue isn't granting a liquor license to one Florence club. Deputies with the Florence County Sheriff's Office say they have more than 100 written criminal reports from Club Spotlight.

Before the court ruled not to grant Spotlight a liquor license, Florence County Sheriff Kenny Boone filed a formal protest with the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

He says the club had been operating without a license for some time, and had become a public nuisance and a burden to law enforcement.

Florence County deputies say they're no stranger to the Spotlight night club.

"We logged approximately 175 incidents involving aggravated assault, vehicle theft, guns, shots fired," said Captain Mike Nunn.

Deputies with the Florence County Sheriff's Office say they seized alcohol and money back in August during a routine compliance inspection at the club, because it didn't have a license.

Records show, at the time, the club did apply for a license and was waiting for approval.

"The application process does not allow you to serve and sell alcohol, you still have to wait for the license to be approved," said Nunn.

During the application period for a liquor license, the public is allowed to voice any objections to the South Carolina Department of Revenue, and that's exactly what Sheriff Kenney Boone did.

"Sheriff Boone decided to protest the license, during the protest phase, and the Department of Revenue took notice of that and on that basis and it's own investigation, the Department of Revenue denied [a] license to the applicants," said Nunn.

The club owners appealed the decision to the South Carolina Administrative Law Court.

But the case ended after the court discovered the club had lost it's lease in February.

Deputies tell me they received little cooperation from the club owners, but people who frequent Spotlight say they enjoy the club and were looking forward to being able to have a drink there.

This is not the first time the sheriff got involved with a night club. In 2009, the sheriff and a solicitor requested for a seizure of, what they call an underground club off of Ed James Road in Florence.

People in the area made complaints of criminal activity there.

The court eventually approved the request and the property was demolished.

Deputies say they will get involved with establishments in the area if there is a major problem and hopes the sheriff's protest against the license for Spotlight will help decrease the number of criminal incidents.

"There's no guarantee of that but it certainly reduces the prospects of violence at the place," said Nunn.

Deputies say they are unsure if the club is still open for business but people in the area claim the club has hosted a few events in the past couple of months.

Several charges are still pending against the club operator.

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