“He was comped 2 Ciroc bottles & 2 Ciroc peach bottles, at $320 each which would total $1280,” Kelley wrote in a complaint to the the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, the D.C. police and the D.C. inspector general’s office. “How could they investigate an incident at the club when they are always getting bottles and tables for free?”
Matthews was placed on administrative leave with pay Tuesday, pending the outcome of an investigation, said Cynthia W. Simms, a community resource officer for the alcoholic beverage agency. The agency also referred the matter to the Department of Human Resources and the inspector general, she said.
In an interview, Matthews denied that he received the bottles or that he was drinking. “I was in a working capacity,” said Matthews, who said he had visited the club twice. “Didn’t nobody comp me bottles because I wasn’t there drinking
. . . .
I could lose my job.”
But Jimmy Bell, Kelley’s attorney, provided The Washington Post with a copy of an e-mail that appears to be from Josephine’s manager, Christina Tang, and that served as an overnight note for her supervisors. The e-mail discusses the dispute over the credit card and the subsequent fight, but it begins with a rundown of freebies and discounts at Josephine, which reopened last month after weeks of renovations.
“Jermaine Mathews (ABC) sat at 305, was comped 2 Ciroc & 2 Ciroc peach bottles,” the e-mail says. “No bottle tickets.”
Tang did not respond to a call or an e-mail seeking comment. Alain Kalantar, a co-owner of Josephine, said in an interview that he did not work that night but that he would look into Kelley’s allegations.
Kelley and Bell claimed the incident had brought to light a standard practice in the club industry: giving gifts to ABC inspectors. Bell said clubs give inspectors free service and drinks to gain favor and to avoid being cited for such problems as being over capacity.
Kelley said Matthews is not alone. “He has been the frequent flier as of late,” Kelley said of Mathews. “Sometimes they tip. Sometimes they don’t.”
A nightclub worker, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the situation, said giving inspectors free liquor is common practice at city nightspots. “It’s standard,” the worker said.
Bell said he wants the police to investigate Kelley’s incident and the alcoholic beverage agency to investigate its inspectors. “What are they doing about other people who are doing this at other clubs?” Bell asked.