Cigar busi­ness owner charged for il­le­gally op­er­at­ing bar, lounge

Re­port­edly ig­nored warn­ings from fire of­fi­cials

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

The owner of In­vic­tus Ci­gars, a Wal­dorf busi­ness, has been charged with il­le­gally run­ning a bar and lounge as well as ac­cused of op­er­at­ing out of com­pli­ance with fire safety code, de­spite re­peated warn­ings from gov­ern­ment and fire mar­shal of­fi­cials.

Owner Mal­colm Lashon Hill, 42, of Wal­dorf was charged with vi­o­lat­ing terms of his build­ing us­age per­mit and reck­less en­dan­ger­ment for the dan­ger posed to pa­trons of the cigar lounge and bar, court records show. Fire mar­shals re­ported that he bla­tantly ig­nored warn­ings, and filed charges against Hill about three weeks af­ter the busi­ness was tem­po­rar­ily closed, marked as un­safe to en­ter from April 11-13.

The cigar store is only per­mit­ted to op­er­ate as a mer­can­tile busi­ness, court records show. The busi­ness had pre­vi­ously at­tempted to sub­mit two dif­fer­ent plans to Charles County gov­ern­ment and the Of­fice of the State Fire Mar­shal; how­ever, the plans were re­jected due to the sig­nif­i­cant changes to the struc­ture, which would af­fect two neigh­bor­ing ten­ants, needed for com­pli­ance with life safety code.

On April 21, fire mar­shals learned, de­spite nu­mer­ous pre­vi­ous con­tacts and warn­ings, that the busi­ness was ad­ver­tis­ing a “Fish Fry Happy Hour” event, which clearly vi­o­lated the con­di­tions of build­ing us­age, court records state. Around 8:30 p.m., deputy fire mar­shal John Ten­nyson en­tered In­vic­tus Ci­gars and found Hill and an­other em­ployee as­sist­ing cus­tomers in a bar, lounge area in the back of the busi­ness, which he had re­peat­edly been warned not to use for any rea­son, charg­ing doc­u­ments state. Pa­trons were seen eat­ing, drink­ing and smok­ing ci­gars.

Con­fronted by Ten­nyson, Hill re­port­edly said his em­ploy­ees had opened the back room with­out per­mis­sion, though Ten­nyson noted that he saw Hill as­sist­ing with busi­ness op­er­a­tions when he ar­rived, not at­tempt­ing to clear pa­trons out. Hill then be­gan curs­ing and slam­ming doors, Ten­nyson wrote.

The busi­ness’ web­site, In­vic­tus­ci­gar­lounge.com, ad­ver­tises the es­tab­lish­ment as “In­vic­tus Ci­gars bar & lounge,” where pa­trons can en­joy ci­gars on leather chairs with four 60-inch tele­vi­sions. From Sun­day to Wed­nes­day, the busi­ness is open from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., the web­site states. Thurs­day to Satur­day, it’s open from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The Mary­land In­de­pen­dent spoke with an em­ployee by phone on Wed­nes­day, who said the busi­ness would be open un­til mid­night. The owner, Hill, could not be im­me­di­ately reached for com­ment.

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