RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Monday marked 30 days since the Richland County Sheriff's Department issued a stop work order at Mi Casita, a restaurant and bar on Decker Boulevard.
However, the department has long said the owners aren't operating the business as such and instead are illegally operating a strip club inside the establishment.
"We have significantly increased our patrols there as well as conducting multiple follow-ups where we d rop in for unannounced inspections," Major Harry Polis Jr. with RCSD, said. "As recently as last weekend they were cited for operating an unlicensed strip club and both managers were issued citations."
Polis Jr. said the department has responded to eight calls for service at Mi Casita since May 4, when the stop work order was issued. On May 19, deputies responded to shots fired call and two days later, they responded to an assault.
"The assault that took place was the result of someone trying to bring narcotics into the club and security didn't want them in there," he said. "It puts emphasis on the fact that these establishments draw the criminal element."
Earlier this year, the Richland County Council denied Mi Casita a renewal of its business license and the owners appealed the decision. With it caught up in appeals court, Polis Jr. said it's still allowed to operate, however only selling beer, wine and food as its original business license states.
Since then, the owners continue to operate illegally as a strip club, according to the department. The establishment is not zoned to operate a sexually-oriented business.
"The sheriff's department is doing everything in our power to get this business to comply, or close," he said. "Keep calling and letting us know when they're operating."
When deputies d rop in, it is up to them whether to issue a citation or make a custodial arrest. So far, deputies have only issued citations and will let the judicial system run its course.
"If they continue to operate and citations don't get their attention, we certainly will make custodial arrests and we'll take managers and owners to jail if we have to," Polis Jr. said.