April 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm EDT | by Staff reports
Arrest of gay bar owners prompts action in Rehoboth

In a continuing effort to correct what Commissioner Dennis Barbour called a “sting” and an “unjust action,” the Rehoboth Board of Commissioners voted on April 14 to begin the process of expunging the criminal records of those business owners who were arrested in September for violating the city’s little-used noise ordinance.

Owners of two of the most popular gay establishments in Rehoboth, John Berdini of Cloud Nine and Bill Shields of Aqua were arrested in the raid.  Even though the city did not pursue the cases, the owners now have arrest records, which can prevent them from pursuing other business interests or licenses.

The Board of Commissioners voted 6-0 to assist any of the arrested parties who sought to expunge their criminal records if asked.  They also indicated they would pay costs associated with the resolution. Commissioner Stan Mills, who initiated the raid, recused himself, based on a suggestion from the state’s Public Integrity Commission. The commission found that Mills, who owns property behind several gay establishments, “is using public office to secure unwarranted privileges, private advantage or gain.”

For several months the commission discussed the issues related to late night noise from patios and at their March meeting decided to allow establishments to keep their patios open until 1 a.m. until at least the end of 2011. — Peter Schott

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