Police raid Toad’s Place

The music at Toad’s Place stopped on Saturday night while the New Haven Police Department questioned patrons as part of an ongoing investigation into underage drinking by the Connecticut Liquor Control Commission.

Brian Phelps, the owner of the nightclub, said several NHPD police officers entered Toad’s at approximately 11 p.m. and asked students to show ID proving that they were over the legal age limit for drinking. Phelps said several underage students were detained by the police, but no arrests were made.

“They found a couple of fake IDs,” he said. “But they can’t hold us liable for that because we installed a machine at the entrance that we use to screen [IDs]. The law says that if we use these machines, we aren’t responsible.”

John Crowdis, an LCC agent based in Hartford, said that the investigation is ongoing and he is unable to provide more details as to the findings of the raid and the reasons that the raid was conducted at that time.

The commission, a branch of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, is responsible for preventing sale of alcohol to those under the age of 21.

But Gerald Langlais, an administrator at the LCC, said that the consumer protection department does not choose nightclubs at random to raid.

“Generally speaking, we raid establishments that we have received complaints about,” he said.

This is not the first time the nightclub, a venue that hosts popular musical artists as well as dance parties several nights a week, has been raided following reports of underage drinking. In September 2001, LCC agents and local police entered Toad’s and cited the nightclub for multiple instances of serving alcohol to minors.

While Phelps said that the nightclub was fined approximately $25,000 dollar at the time, it was only forced to shut down for one week. This time, Phelps believes that the punishment will be less severe.

“There will be hearings to discuss the findings and determine what the fine will be and whether or not we have to close for awhile,” he said. “But until then, things will be normal.”

Cara Watts ’07, who said she frequently attends Saturday night dance parties at Toad’s, said she did not think there were many Yale students inside the nightclub at the time.

“There were just students milling around all over the place,” she said. “If they were Yale students, they probably would have dispersed.”

Other New Haven establishments have also come under investigation for underage drinking in recent years. Naples Pizzeria, which was raided in October 2001 by the NHPD, paid $12,500 worth of fines to the Liquor Control Division and had its liquor license permanently revoked.

Langlais said that findings from the raid will not be available until Monday afternoon at the earliest.

City police raided Toad’s Place Saturday. The nightclub has been a target of prior complaints.
Michael Blank
City police raided Toad’s Place Saturday. The nightclub has been a target of prior complaints.

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