An owner of the Bachelors Two discotheque in Fairfax City was seen running from the rear of the smoking building on the night it was destroyed by arson, according to an affidavit filed last week in Fairfax Circuit Court.
The affidavit, filed March 26 in support of a search warrant for the burned nightclub on Lee Highway, said that an unnamed "citizen" saw Manoutcher (Manny) Rahnama, president of Bachelors Two Inc., running with one other person from the rear of the building shortly before the fire was reported.
Rahnama, who lives in Sterling, Va., has told police that he was home in bed when the fire started, according to the affidavit, which was filed by Fairfax City Det. Roger Reed.
Although Rahnama, a naturalized American citizen of Iranian descent who speaks little English, could not be reached for comment yesterday, his lawyer, Stephen A. Armstrong, said the affidavit "is incredible" and filled with "overstatements."
"These guys were in pretty good financial condition," Armstrong said, referring to Rahnama and other owners of the popular nightclub. The lawyer quoted Rahnama as calling the nightclub "my baby" and said that Rahnama was "very upset at the tone" of the search warrant affidavit.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said yesterday that his office is "taking a very close look" at the investigation of the fire, which destroyed the nightclub on March 20 and caused an estimated $1 million worth of damage.
The business and the building at 10960 Lee Highway were insured for approximately $1 million with Aetna Life and Casualty Insurance Company, according to the affidavit. It also said that Rahnama was a beneficiary of the insurance policy.
Horan said he is awaiting laboratory findings on items taken from the scene of the fire before deciding whether anyone will be charged in the fire, which Fairfax City fire officials ruled last week was arson.
A state license to sell hard liquor at the nightclub was revoked five days before the fire, according to the Alcoholic Beverages Commission. Philip G. Disharoon, an ABC inspector who examined the Bachelors Two books, said yesterday that the nightclub appeared to have been selling more liquor than it was reporting to the state.
The nightclub, according to the affidavit, was $15,000 behind in rent for the brown and white cement block building it leased. O. D. Weber, the building's owner, said yesterday that he has been trying since January to collect the overdue rent payments.
An attorney for the Bachelors Two company said yesterday, however, that the amount of overdue rent was in dispute by the nightclub owners because of a disagreement over what percentage of the profits should go to Weber.
A former manager of the Bachelors Two, Mohammad (Sam) Habibi, said yesterday that the nightclub had gross receipts last year of more than $600,000 and that it was a healthy business.
Habibi said that Rahnama was making a good living from the nighclub and had no reason to want it destroyed by fire. Rahnama is married and has no children.
Bachelors Two Inc. also owns a Bachelors Two nightclub in Manassas, where the company is now building a third nightclub.
According to the affidavit, the back door of the Bachelors Two nightclub in Fairfax City was left open when the fire started. The door, which could only be opened from the inside of the building, bore no marks of forced entry the affidavit said.
It further stated that Rahnama was one of three people who had a key to the back door.
A source close to Rahnama said yesterday that the affidavit sounded inaccurate and confused. He said Rahnama "is not a dumb guy."