by: Jim Bradley Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
What most people remember most about uptown Charlotte's Sheraton Hotel is the gunfire that erupted and the chaos that followed during a massive party at the close of CIAA weekend last month. Now a report from a state Alcohol Law Enforcement agent who investigated what happened that night is raising new questions about why the hotel was able to sell alcohol.
After the hotel changed names from the Blake Hotel to the Sheraton last year it was supposed to get a new permit from the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. But for months it didn't. Last November ABC agent with Charlotte Meckelnburg Police refused the hotel's request for an alcohol permit because the hotel was still under renovation and didn't have proper code and zoning certifications. But the state's report says Larry Parker, a representative for of the Sheraton, asked police to sign off anyway, claiming "he knew someone at the ABC Commission who would take care of it."
That suggestion of "influence" comes as the city of Charlotte is still grappling with the aftermath of former mayor Pat Cannon's resignation last week on public corruption charges.
In the case of the Sheraton, the N.C. ABC insists there's no evidence of any improper influence by Larry Parker or any ABC employee. But state documents do say the Sheraton kept selling alcohol without a permit for months. That only changed once the CIAA tournament came to town. With a huge party planned that was bringing in rap mogul "Diddy" the Sheraton asked for, and received, a temporary alcohol permit even though CMPD still hadn't offered its approval.
That temporary permit ended up being suspended just days later after two people where shot and others were injured during a melee at the Saturday night party. Despite that, the Sheraton was able to get another alcohol permit just a week later. The hotel has agreed to train servers and notify the state when other big parties are booked. The latest alcohol permit for the Sheraton will remain "temporary" until at least 2015.
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