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Rack n’ Roll Shuts Down

By Greg L | 24 September 2007 | Rack & Roll Scandal | 21 Comments

It’s all over for the Rack n’ Roll Billiard Club. After suffering years of abuse from city officials who did everything they could to destroy his business, Dave Ruttenberg finally had to close Rack n’ Roll and has a mountain of unpaid debts. Justice delayed has certainly become justice denied for this man who had the courage to fight against wanton abuses of government power in Manassas Park. Today, the bad guys get to claim a victory.

Dave Ruttenberg walked into the perfect storm of a corrupt local government that was fixated on enriching it’s officials through land deals connected with the possible establishment of a satellite wagering facility to be operated by Colonial Downs, and a local police officer with a personal grudge who was eager to settle his personal scores if only the city government would provide him some cover. The police staged drug deals in this business for the purpose of using the evidence against Ruttenberg and co-opted his employees to break the rules Ruttenberg had instructed them to follow, harassed his customers, the city’s vice-mayor solicited lewd behavior and even photographed nude underage girls in the club to be used against Ruttenberg, and the Governing Board used every opportunity available to take the fruits of these unlawful activities to revoke permits and licenses in order to force Ruttenberg out. As the city continued to wrongfully trash Ruttenberg’s reputation, raid his business, and revoke his permit to sell alcohol, his business has been in steep decline that finally ended today.

At the same time the city has worked hard to chase away any buyers of this business, telling them that they will not be able to obtain a Conditional Use Permit from the city. All because the proceeds of any sale would likely be used to help continue Ruttenberg’s legal challenges, not because there’s actually any reasonable basis to deny a permit for this specific location, particularly having seen what’s happened elsewhere in this strip mall. This chasing away of buyers hasn’t happened once or twice, it’s happened to every potential buyer — eight in all. This unconscionable behavior is an outrage.

Were I a resident of the City of Manassas Park, I would immediately launch a recall petition effort in Manassas Park against Mayor Frank Jones. It only takes about 200 signatures to file one of these, which would then result in an expedited trial at which a judge would hear evidence and determine whether the Mayor should be removed from office. The charges against Mayor Frank Jones would include engaging in a conspiracy to obstruct justice by holding evidence that demonstrates that former Vice-Mayor Kevin Brendel engaged in the production of child pornography, appointing this same known child pornographer to the City’s Planning Commission, seizing written briefs provided to members of the Planning Commission and the Governing Board from the mailboxes of these government officials when he didn’t like what they had to say, and concealing evidence of police set-ups of Rack n’ Roll from law enforcement authorities so they could be investigated and prosecuted. There are other possible items in this complaint as well, as the malfeasance of office here runs long and deep.

David Ruttenberg now has nothing left to lose. There’s no possible benefit in trying to play nice and find compromise at this point. It’s time to clean up this mess in Manassas Park, and finally get some long-delayed justice for David Ruttenberg.

The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.

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  1. Anonymous said on 24 Sep 2007 at 11:21 pm:
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    Paul Ebert lets this garbage happen.


  2. Anonymous said on 24 Sep 2007 at 11:32 pm:
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    Dave should run for mayor, he’d have my vote.

  3. Lafayette said on 24 Sep 2007 at 11:45 pm:
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    Wake up Manassas Park, get those 200 signatures ASAP!!
    I agree both anons above.
    Dave as mayor, that’s great. Talk about POETIC JUSTICE!!!

  4. Hillary said on 25 Sep 2007 at 3:04 am:
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    Kevin Brendel should be as far away from children and on a child predator list already!

  5. NoVA Scout said on 25 Sep 2007 at 6:02 am:
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    Greg: your efforts to keep the full story in the forefront of everyone’s awareness have been outstanding and put the mainstream media to shame. Let’s hope that justice (or at least improved fortune) await Dave. Thanks for your work on this.

  6. The Patriot said on 25 Sep 2007 at 7:13 am:
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    “Were I a resident of the City of Manassas Park, I would immediately launch a recall petition effort in Manassas Park against Mayor Frank Jones. It only takes about 200 signatures to file one of these, which would then result in an expedited trial at which a judge would hear evidence and determine whether the Mayor should be removed from office.”

    Certainly there are 200 MP residents that are part of HSM that could sign a petition.

  7. Clean it up in '07 said on 25 Sep 2007 at 11:18 am:
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    I urge everyone to NEVER forget all the players in this travesty of justice. They ALL must be held accountable.

    MP City Council — Of course the Mayor must go….but the entire Council must be replaced because every member either participated or sat idly by as it happened.

    Commonwealth’s Attorney — Let’s not forget Ebert’s role in this. We must get the proper authorities to investigate his role in letting this happen on his watch. I’m convinced we don’t have the whole story on his refusals to investigate ANYTHING in this matter and what he had to potentially gain.

    MP City Attorney — At the very least, he should be suspended from practicing law for his role. It’s too much for me to even process all that was wrong with his dealings with the former Vice-Mayor, child porn possession, and all the other potential violations of law that have not come to light yet.

    The bottom line is this foiks. The players in this Manassas Park travesty of justice think the citizenry is lazy, stupid, and have such short attention spans tht since Rack n’Roll is now closed, we will all go away and forget what happened, and then their accontability and responsibility for their transgressions and numerous violations of the law will go away.


  8. Golem said on 25 Sep 2007 at 12:34 pm:
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    Dave Ruttenberg is my hero. He was attacked by small, jealous people intent on demonstrating the little power they had to put this young man “in his place.” Dave could have quit three years ago (after that rediculous, abusive raid that turned up two bottles of warm beer). He would have had much of his personal assets intact. Instead, both to vindicate himself - AND BECAUSE DAVID COULD NOT UNDERSTAND HOW, IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, HE COULD BE SO EASILY DEPRIVED OF HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - IF SO WHAT ABOUT THE GUY NEXT TO HIM - IF SO WHAT ABOUT ALL OF YOU CITIZENS OF MANASSAS PARK - he decided to fight and what a fight it has been.

    (In reading this keep in mind that since 2001, Mario Lugo - see below - and other Manssas Park authorities have been accusing David Ruttenberg of being a drug user/distributer. In their reply brief, just submitted to the 4th Circuit, Lugo and company continue that defamation. David Ruttenberg, of course, has never been charged with any such crime much less convicted. Either David is the smartest drug user in the world or the MP cops and their friends the most inept. Considering all this had led to huge legal fees for the tax payers of Manassas Park, which will only increase in the future - the fight is far from over - the good citizens of Manassas Park might want to consider the wisdom of continuing these people in their employ).

    Look what the fight has produced so far:

    1. Mario Lugo (chief narcotics detective for Manassas Park) enraged that David, in 2001, had complained to his superior about threats this creep made against David, imported drug dealers into RnR in 2003 to “take the club down.” It failed. Violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States, i.e., taking property w/o due process of law. Dave FOUGHT by taking the issue to Chief John Evans. Evans, professional that his is, not only did nothing but allowed the campaign against David to continue. Violation of the 1st. Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, i.e., the right to free speech w/o retaliation. STATE VIOLATION OF ANYONE’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IS, IN EFFECT, VIOLATION OF YOUR RIGHTS MANASSSAS PARK!

    2. Mario Lugo, during February through April, 2004 fabricated drug deals in RNR by co-opting RNR’s head of security (Tom Kifer - a man with a proven grudge against David, and using a homeless kid (Jeffrey Price) to do those deals. Mario will deny Price but there is sworn testimony before the ABC Board, by Price’s own sister, that he was working with Mario to “take down RNR.” There is much more including Kifer’s admission to David, in recorded and transcribed confession, that he sat outside RNR with member(s) of Lugo’s gang planning how to incriminate David in the fabricated drug deals going on inside. Violation of the 14th Amend of the Constitution. STATE VIOLATION OF ANYONE’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IS, IN EFFECT, VIOLATION OF YOUR RIGHTS MANASSAS PARK!

    3. Mario and his boys, under the direction of the good Chief Evans (who will tell you, “Oh no, it wasn’t me, it was the JTNF,” but who had been told about what Mario was up to and did nothing) and now, to cover for their inability to get a search warrant, joined by his conscript, John Loftis of the Virginia ABC, came full force on 2 June 2004. They were going to arrest David and close the club right then, more than 3 years ago. They expected to find two large bottles of vodka, hidden in advance by police stooges on the premises, but they were not there. David had found them (see recent blog of Beverly Frezza bringing illegal alcohol into RNR and getting caught; see ABC allegation of Shannon Mullins that David gave her rum in RNR ONLY TO BE CHANGED UNDER OATH, that Wayne Houston (who denies it) gave her the rum and somehow David saw it. Violation of the 14 and the 4th Amendment of the Constitutition of the United States, i.e., illegal search and seizure. STATE VIOLTION OF ANYONE’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IS, IN EFFECT, VIOLATION OF YOUR RIGHTS MANASSAS PARK!

    4. In the process (as admitted before the ABC Board by ABC agent Loftis) they illegally searched David’s private office. Mario’s gang had been told that that office was a den on iniquity. That David used it to seduce underaged girls and kept vast quantities of pornography, drugs and liquor for that purpose. The raiders knew in advance that the office was not covered by the ABC license and a search warrant was required. Loftis, who was the raider who searched the office, so testified at the ABC heaing. But they were determined to get into that office and get David, search warrant or no search warrant. Once they could show all that pornograhy, all those drugs and all that liquor, who would pay any attention to their disregard for the Constitution. WHAT DID THEY FIND!!! They found a business office. No drugs. No pornography. Two unopened bottles of vodka (one a small airplane souvenir bottle) which the ABC agreed were legal in David’s private space. Violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. STATE VIOLATION OF ANYONE’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IS, IN EFFECT, VIOLATION OF YOUR RIGHTS MANASSAS PARK!

    5. And then the litigation:

    a. To cover their backsides from the failed raid, and put RNR out of business by pulling their ABC license, MP demanded that the Virginia ABC bring formal charges against RNR. The idea was to be able to claim they provided RNR due process (a joke when it comes to an ABC hearing - e.g., they accept hearsay on hearsay, i.e., what a cop says a bouncer told her (heresay -) about what David supposedly said (on-hearsay) while rejecting a sworn affidavit by one of the alleged drug dealers to the effect that not only were they working with Mario and company but that Kifer was taking payoffs for letting them in the club to do the deals). The farce backfired when David had many of the cops subpoenaed and placed under oath. The sworn record developed thereby is now partly the basis of the Federal litigation described below including proof of David’s 2001 complaints to Mario’s supervisors, how the 2003 set-up went down and the admission that they illegally, i.e., w/o a warrant, searched David’s office. Further, MP used an expensive law firm to represent them at the ABC. Probably $300 plus per hour, Manassas Park, and these are the same guys, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time, who are still working the on-going litigation. Enjoy it Manassas Park (One of you ought to ask Mayor Jones what it has cost).

    b. MP Governing Body tries to deprive RNR of its Conditional Use Permit (CUP). The MP Board of Zoning Appeals overrides the GB and finds the permit valid. CHAOS MANASSAS PARK

    c. MP GB sues its own MP ZB and loses. The Prince William Circuit Court finds that RNR’s CUP is not only still valid but is a property right held by RNR (a factor RNR will use when it returns to the US District Ct for the Eastern District of Va., particularly with respect to the ongoing attempt by MP to revoke that CUP based not only on the same fabricated circumstances set out above, but now, incredibly, on the perverted “kiddie porn” activities of their own then Vice-Mayor, now Planning Commissioner, of great esteem). EVEN MORE WONDERFUL CHAOS BROUGHT ON BY YOUR LEADERS MANASSAS PARK - IS THAT THE SMELL OF TAX MONEY BURNING?

    d. A five million dollar suit against MP, Lugo and company in the Eastern District. SAME $300/HR + LAWYERS.

    e. An appeal, in the $5 million suit, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit including an ACLU amicus brief in support of RNR. An 80 page reply brief BY THE SAME $300+ LAWYERS YOU LUCKY MANASSSAS PARKERS.

    f. And lots, lots more to come, RNR being closed notwithstanding.

    David was just a kid out of college who started a business with his family. He wanted nothing more than to work hard and realize the American dream. The creeps of Manassas Park authority, jealous of his success in more ways than one, decided to show him his place. They succeeded. David learned his place. He learned that his place was to fight injustice and protect the American way of life. This may sound phony to some of you out there but I know its true and David is my hero. And, Manassas Park, he should be yours as well.

  9. Batson D. Belfrey said on 25 Sep 2007 at 1:21 pm:
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    Let’s not forget the Manassas Journal Messenger. Sure, they ran a few superficial articles, but they decided to run with biting, in-depth stories on lost dogs and euthanized cats. Meanwhile, there is a tremendous abuse of governmental power going on, and evidence of curruption to boot, yet they do nothing.


  10. I LOVE TV said on 25 Sep 2007 at 1:26 pm:
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    Kudos to the Manassas Journal “Calendar and Coupon Rag” for their outstanding investigative reporting, regarding controversial and important issues, such as what the school lunches are on Thursday and who is marrying who whenever, AND SAVING US from having to hear about the rampant corruption of the Manassas Park Mafia (Mayor, Vice Mayor, City Council, Police and City Attorney) and the bang-up “Deer in the Headlights” style of prosecuting by the one & only Ham Sandwich AKA Paul Ebert. What I really want to hear is “Good night John-Boy” “Good night Sue Ellen” “Seacrest Out” and who is on the next “Dancing With the Stars”. I want to hear about apple pie, and Halloween, and even though it is not politically correct, Christmas. I want to hear about the nice weather and who made Honor Roll. Bad things make me nervous, and the very idea that there is a morally bankrupt group of civil SERVANTS who set up drug deals and vote via circle jerk makes me want to run and put my head in the sand…

    …There we go, I have my head in the sand now. By the way, Manassas Journal “Calendar and Coupon Rag”, you may want to publish instructions on how all of the residents of Manassas Park can put their heads in the sand. Here is how I do it. First I make a pile of sand, using about fifteen 50 lb bags of sand. This pile should be about 3 feet high. Then I stand about 25 feet away from the pile, scratch the ground like a bull with my foot, and lower my head and run as fast as I can. In about 2 seconds, I wake up and my head is rammed in that sand pile to about my shoulders. Other people I talk to in Manassas Park make the pile of sand, but instead of running, simply dive into the sand pile head first from a tree or roof top. I will try that next.

    Once again, thanks Manassas Journal “Calendar and Coupon Rag” for making my life simple and stress free!

  11. Bryanna said on 25 Sep 2007 at 2:23 pm:
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    Clean it up in ‘07 said on 25 Sep 2007 at 11:18 am:

    Well said, and if they believe they can get away with this, which obviously they do, then imagine what else is or has happened that we don’t know about. People don’t get this drunk on power from one sip of Kool-aid.

  12. redawn said on 25 Sep 2007 at 5:22 pm:
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    It would be really nice if this were presented as a show on 20/20 or Dateline NBC. What are the chances?

  13. Loudoun Insider said on 25 Sep 2007 at 8:27 pm:
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    This just infuriates me even more. These guys need to be recalled and prosecuted.

  14. Dave B. said on 25 Sep 2007 at 8:52 pm:
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    Obviously the FBI and state police don’t think a crime was committed here or they would have been here by now. It is a travesty what happened for sure but the powers that be don’t seem to think that any laws were broken by the park officials. If half the stuff is true that has been reported here then the FBI and state police would have been all over this by now…

  15. AWCheney said on 25 Sep 2007 at 10:11 pm:
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    You’re wrong Dave B…they’re here and have been here. Your elected officials, however, are REALLY good at covering their tracks. Remember this past year when ALL the Council Minutes disappeared from the MP web site? Then they started coming back piece by piece, but they weren’t the same. There has been an air of intimidation among City employees who don’t like what’s going on. It’s like I’ve said before…these people are evil and Paul Ebert is backing their play ALL THE WAY.

    And if these people believe for one second that the FBI has forgotten them, they’re more arrogant and naive than I thought!

  16. Bryanna said on 25 Sep 2007 at 11:12 pm:
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    “AWCheney said on 25 Sep 2007 at 10:11 There has been an air of intimidation among City employees who don’t like what’s going on. It’s like I’ve said before…these people are evil and Paul Ebert is backing their play”

    Paul Ebert must be playing golf with Craig Gerhart and Martin Briley. It’s time for change in our local county government.

  17. MP Resident said on 26 Sep 2007 at 1:53 am:
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    The city council minutes, audio and video recordings of those meetings ought to be on file at Central Library, for anyone who wants to read, listen, or watch them.

    But if they were, they’d be out of the control of those who might wish to alter them, so that will never happen.

  18. I LOVE TV said on 26 Sep 2007 at 4:11 pm:
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    Time and time again, I keep seeing random comments in the Rack n’ Roll series of posts that repeat a common theme => if all Dave Ruttenberg’s accusations of gross malfeasance by Manassas Park officials and police as well the various ancillary agencies involved are true, the State Police, the FBI, the Commonwealth Attorney would be aggressively nvestigating/prosecuting and the civil lawsuit would have been a slam dunk by Dave, and he would have won all of his hearings the first time around.

    Nothing could be more naive or further from the truth. There is an unwritten but strongly adhered to rule of “thou shall not narc on fellow government employees”. Look how whistle-blowers within agencies are treated - with scorn and alienation. Look at cases of obvious police misconduct and how the testimony of other officers completely contradicts eye witness reports. Look how governers are chauffered at 90 mph and get pissed off when they get tickets from officers. Look what happens to those officers. Look what happens when Senator Byrd gets pulled over for speeding. Look what happens when Teddy Kennedy has a seedy weekend, starting with Chappaquiddick. NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And this is society in general. Look what happened when Jose Conseco accused baseball of massive steroid abuse. He was equated to Satan and Charles Manson, given no credibility, and called a liar. Now look at Barry Bonds, all of the subsequent suspensions for steroids, and the renewed congressional investigations and arrests involving big name sports figures

    What Dave has done is rock the foundation of the Manassas Park City Government and its Police. The other agencies are reluctant to help because of the fraternity that exists among Local, State, and Federal agencies. Remember what people have said for years - you can’t fight city hall. It’s a damn shame that all of our civil servants called be counted on to follow their oaths made to the people of our municipalities.

    I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

  19. redawn said on 26 Sep 2007 at 5:35 pm:
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    Has anyone thought of contacting a national show such as Dateline or 20/20? I do not know all the details to present such a case.

    I LOVE TV,
    YOU ARE SO RIGHT! What do you think of my suggestion?

    “Nothing could be more naive or further from the truth. There is an unwritten but strongly adhered to rule of “thou shall not narc on fellow government employees”. Look how whistle-blowers within agencies are treated - with scorn and alienation.”

  20. MP Resident said on 26 Sep 2007 at 6:37 pm:
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    I remember some description of government employment:

    “We’re like a bunch of headless nails in here. Once we get put in, there’s no getting us out”.

    Seems to be about right.

  21. Golem said on 27 Sep 2007 at 8:50 am:
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    “I Love TV” has put his/her finger directly on the problem. There is, in fact, no doubt about the truth/accuracy of David’s allegations. The ABC hearing produced a record that included 740 pages of sworn testimony and more than 20 documents. That record fully supports David’s core allegations. Further, there is additional evidence that’s been collected including taped conversations and documents from the MP police (curiously, although during discoverey on the ABC matter all MP police records concerning David/RNR were produced, there were absolutely no documents from the MP police supporting their current allegation in the MP brief to the 4th Circuit that David has been under investigation for drugs since 2001). The problem that David faces is the system’s built in bias for authority to protect authority. Because of that bias, the initial suit filed in the Eastern District was dismissed, not on substance, THE EASTERN DISTRICT HAS NEVER SEEN ANY OF THE EVIDENCE, but on technicalities designed and used to support that bias.

    To some extent I can understand the inclination to protect cops from attack when they make honest mistakes. It bothers me, because it denigrates the importance of the average citizen in conflict with the authority figure, but the thought process, I think, is if you allow a sucessful attack on the cops every time they make an honest mistake, you will impede, if not absolutely prevent, effective police protection of the citizenry.

    The MP police attack on David was NOT an honest mistake. this blog, and others, have outlined in detail why it took place and I won’t take your time with repetition. My point is that because it was an INTENDED attack on a citizen’s constitutional rights it represents the most insidious insult and danger to our very system of constitutional protections. In effect, it is an insult and danger to the American way of life. That attack had to be resisted, even knowing the expense and difficulty inherent in a civil rights suit (42 USC § 1983) directed at the police. David chose to resist.

    Recent posts, and the MJM article, have indicated that the suit failed. That is not correct. David knew from the beginning that the suit was a process. He, and his advisors, expected the case to be dismissed at the Federal District Court level. The plan was to focus public attention, through the suit, on the malfeasance of the MP authorities and eventually progress the suit through the appellate process and back into the District Court. At that point the evidence will come out and, believe me, the City won’t like it.

    That plan has worked far better than David could have imagined. Yesterday, the MJM quoted City Councilman Miller as saying “there is a dark cloud over everybody’s head concerning this situation” and boy is he right. Without David, the Lugo gang would be out there feeling free as bird to ignore the Constitution. With the coming of the “dark cloud,” I don’t think that’s the case.

    David has submitted his appellate brief with the 4th Circuit. The ACLU has submitted an amicus brief is support of David. The Lugo gang has submitted its reply. That reply so mistates the facts as to indicate a degree of panic present in the “gang” (it also points to their hope that the bias will kick in and the 4th Circuit will pick up on its defamation to deny the appeal). David’s reply brief is due on 10/24. Subsequently, oral argument will be held in Richmond and then the 4th Circuit will decide.

    The 4th Circuit is very conservative. The bias there is strong. But David’s case is strong and Federal appellate judges, at the end of the day, are there to protect and support the Constitution. David can’t be sure he will win, but the suit hasn’t failed. Its far from over. As Greg and Radley would say, stay tuned.

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