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Former bar owner says police ruined his business


August 25. 2013 9:02AM
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LIMA — The former owner of a bar that has had the most police calls in the past 16 months said Monday police officers put him out of business despite his efforts to work with them.Scott Custer owned Custer's Chateau at 2307 Spencerville Road for nearly 10 years before selling it last month. He said he had no alternative but to sell after police officers chased away all his customers.“They ruined my business,” he said.Custer said he had a popular bar that “gangbangers” started frequenting during the winter of 2010 to 2011 after police officers put pressure on downtown bars to clean up. Instead of good people, he had what he called “gangbangers,” who hung out without buying drinks or food, essentially chasing away good customers.Custer went to police officers for help, hired additional security, charged a cover fee and even tried playing country music to change the appeal of the bar. For a while, police officers did work with him but that changed. Officers began showing up unannounced in groups walking through the bar intimidating customers, including the good customers.“Police were making threats and being rude to me. I told them this was my property and asked if they had a warrant. They said they didn't need a warrant and told me to shut up,” Custer said.Custer's bar had 172 police calls from Jan. 1, 2011, to April 23, 2012. Of those, 88 were for officers just stopping by without a call.Maj. Chip Protsman of the Lima Police Department said calls on the list where officers stop by are not counted against the bar owner.Protsman said officers are most concerned with four categories of crime: fights, loud music, drugs and violent crimes. Chateau had 25 calls fall into that category.Had Custer not sold the Chateau in the past month and the new owner agree to work with police officers, the department would have objected to the renewal of its liquor permit, Protsman said.The Lima News examined bar records this past week looking into police calls after the Police Department used among its criteria the number of police calls to object to the renewal of the liquor license for the Brownstone at 337 N. Elizabeth St. The Brownstone is owned by local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leader Jason Upthegrove, who has been a strong critic of police procedure and policies as he advocates for the black community. Upthegrove accused police officers of targeting his bar to get at him and even planting evidence to try to bolster a case. Custer said he believes Upthegrove. He said police officers planted cocaine in one of his bathrooms during a visit. He said officers walked into the bar and straight into the bathroom. Moments later they walked out with a bag of cocaine asking about it, he said.After that, Custer said officers were telling everyone he was a drug kingpin. “I'm tired of my name getting slapped in the face,” Custer said.Custer said his former bar was once a popular place for professionals and good people to enjoy a meal. Lima City Council members often had dinner at his bar after meetings and Lima Mayor David Berger was a frequent guest, he said.“I had the mayor's Christmas party here,” he said. “Everybody came here.”





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