Jan 8, 2016 2:01 PM

Gilford strip club owner claims police raid caused losses of more than $1.1 million

CONCORD – Willard Drew, who filed a federal lawsuit charging his Gilford strip club was the target of a police raid designed to drive him out of business, suffered a revenue loss of as much as $1.1 million as a result of the denial of his First Amendment Rights, according to The Citizen.

READ: Fire Department closes Gilford strip club

In 2011 police executed a search warrant after four months of prior undercover investigation, where they were sold drugs from five employees.

Drew owned the property and held the liquor license for the venue but was not in charge of management at the time.

In October 2014, Drew sued, seeking monetary damages for losses to his business and to his reputation.

The suit alleges that town leaders and other municipal officials joined members of the task force and the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission in entering the strip club for the sole purpose of inspecting the building for town code violations when really, they used the raid to conduct an unlawful inspection that fell outside those authorized by the search warrant.

Drew's losses estimated at $194,400 but he had the option to purchase the property contained in the lease agreement with Pretty Woman Talent and Entertainment Agency Inc., doing business as Mardi Gras North. If it had been exercised Drew would have received a payout of $1,164,400.

Based on an analysis of Rooms and Meals Tax Revenue generated in Belknap County in the years before and after the raid, Drew's revenues were trending up and would have most likely continued, perhaps resulting in the sale of the 5.8 acre property, which is currently assessed by the town for tax purposes at $590,000.

If the parties are unable to negotiate a settlement, the case is now on track to go to trial in mid-April and testimony is expected to last between five days and a week.

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