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October 23, 2014

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Former Privé security director speaks out

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Ron Lyons, former security director at Prive nightclub, sent a signed affidavit on Monday to District Attorney David Roger and Director of Business License Jacqueline Holloway outlining his recollection of the events that led up to the citations leveled against the club.

On May 14, 2008, the Clark County Department of Business License issued three citations to Privé nightclub at Planet Hollywood. In counts No. 1 and 2 it is stated that then-security director Ronald Lyons “stalled agents while they were conducting a compliance inspection” and “interfered with license agents during the course of a routine inspection.” Count No. 3 cited Privé for allowing “topless activity and lewd activity.”

In a two-page affidavit sent this Monday afternoon to District Attorney David Roger, Director of Business License Jacqueline Holloway and the Las Vegas Weekly, a sister publication to the Las Vegas Sun, Ronald “Ron” Lyons, 39, outlines his recollection of the events that led up to the citations and gives some additional insight into his role and responsibilities at Privé in the hopes, he says, of thwarting any attempts to defame his character or name.

Throughout the signed affidavit he states repeatedly that he was “very uncomfortable” with many of the things he was directed by Privé management to do during his five months with the company.

Lyons reports that on many occasions he was called from the club floor to the front door to remove a guest to whom directors Frank Tucker or Greg Jarmolowich had denied entry, “which is the only capacity I served at the front door.”

And he tells a very different story of the events of May 13 into 14.

Stemming from a prior incident, Lyons says he had overheard a discussion between Metro officers and Planet Hollywood security about possibly calling Gaming over repeated fights within or originating at Privé. In a separate conversation with the Weekly, Lyons reported warning management of what he heard.

When the Gaming Control agents actually did enter the club on the evening of May 13, Lyons says it was announced “on the radio that Metro had entered the club and that they were somewhat belligerent when entering.”

Descriptions were given and Lyons located the agents inside the club, which was open that Wednesday solely for a private swingers party. Lyons says he informed the agents, who “quickly flashed their badges,” that “this was a private party and even as off duty Metro officers they would still need to have an invitation.” He states that the agents berated him but still did not verbally identify themselves. Only when Lyons requested their business cards did he become aware that he had just been speaking with Gaming Control.

The agents left to seek out Tucker, as did Lyons. Lyons apologized to the agents for the misunderstanding and notes that the agent was “very cordial and said he understood.”

While in the club, the agents apparently witnessed the goings on at the swingers party, which included, says Lyons, plenty of lewd acts. Before the agents’ arrivals, Lyons says he and his security guards had had their hands full trying to regulate the very sexually charged party attendees but “ultimately the club received citations, one due to the nudity.”

Privé was cited for three violations that night, and those violations were later absorbed into the nine-count complaint by the State Gaming Control Board. Lyons says Tucker called him into the office the next day and terminated him despite Lyons explanation that he had tried to warn Tucker about both a possible Gaming Control visit and the likelihood of nudity at a swingers party.

“In the nightclub industry, I was known for being dependable and for having great integrity.” With his statement, Lyons says he is merely trying to clear his name. “For the sake of the people who informed me [that Privé might drag his name into the appeals process and who urged him to come forward], they want to protect their investment and make sure they have the right people running their nightclubs.” In a letter dated July 27, 2009, Privé’s attorney Jay H. Brown submitted a memorandum in support of Privé’s appeal which states: “With regards to the Security Management issue, sometime ago we replaced the Security Manager that was employed by Privé at the time of the allegations of the Complaint.” Both Tucker and Jarmolowich have both since been denied the role of key employee at Privé by the Department of Business License.

In his initial statement, Lyons also brings up new issues. He sets forth allegations including racial discrimination of guests on certain nights of the week and tip pool inconsistencies. In a one-page addendum sent later that the same day, he delves even deeper into the allegations of drug use inside the club and the club’s kitchen area and of being told that “it’s not worth it” to put a stop to it if the perpetrators were spending lots of money. He concludes, “I simply want to ensure that if someone is trying to use my name in a negative way to better themselves and give false information about my character, I am there to defend myself.”

In a second addendum, sent separately the following day, Lyons elaborates on his prior mention of Privé’s money-handling processes. He describes how he administered nightly pat-downs to the VIP hosts in the “cash room” and claims to have escorted management to the parking garage with a briefcase he estimates held in excess of $10,000 in cash tips on a nightly basis.

“At no time was I involved in actually counting the money,” Lyons writes, “and the money was never kept in the club, it was always taken away …

A former VIP host who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity confirms that he had to turn over all his tips on a nightly basis and that he would get his much reduced cut back as an envelope of cash, which he would pick up at the Privé offices on Dean Martin Drive. He says he would then sign the tax form that Privé’s human resources department drew up for the VIP hosts and asked no further questions.

Lyons also claims that he was instructed to walk off Planet Hollywood property a VIP host and two porters for not turning in all of their tip money. “One thing that really bothered me: we had to go through the casino.” Lyons concedes that his power extended only to the Privé ropes, but in a military fashion explains, “I was given specific direction that I had to take them out of the casino or all the way to valet … I just did what I was told.”

After working as the VIP clipboard-wielding “shredder” at the door of Pure nightclub at Caesars Palace, Lyons says he was recruited by Tucker to join him at the Opium Group’s new nightclub at Planet Hollywood. Lyons accepted the position as security director and took command of his team of 20 to 25 Privé security guards just after the club’s New Year’s Eve 2008 opening.

Since his termination in May 2008, Lyons has relocated to Carson City, Nevada, where he is now a restaurant manager and primary caregiver to his daughter. “That was not the lifestyle that I need to be a dad to my daughter. I had some fun, I made some money, I thought I made some friends. I just want to be left alone … I want it to be known that what they’re claiming, it is not what happened.”

Both the county and the DA’s offices have confirmed receipt of Lyons’ statement. Opium Group responded via a representative, saying, “Ron Lyons, former head of security, was terminated for cause. We are without knowledge as to his affidavit in regards to our liquor license.” A staff member in the DA’s office says that Lyons’ statement will likely be filed away until such time as a case is opened involving Privé and/or Lyons.

The Clark County Department of Business License today denied Privé a temporary liquor license, enforcing the closure of the venue at midnight tonight. The matter and appeal will now be brought before the Clark Country Commission on August 4 for a final decision.

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