The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Otter House owners charged in Fredericksburg
By KEITH EPPS
The owners of a downtown Fredericksburg business have been charged with maintaining a common nuisance.
Stephen Andrew Cameli, 33, and Paul Andrus Stoddard, 32, owners of the Otter House at 1005 Princess Anne St., were arrested Wednesday and released on summonses. The Class 1 misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
City police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said the charges stem from repeated incidents involving the business since September, including two assaults involving bouncers.
Most of the incidents were drunk driving and public intoxication charges police tied to the business. A listing of offenses also includes larcenies, drug violations, urinating in public and assaults.
According to police, the Otter House is the first city business associated with a public nuisance charge since 2005, when the Thomas Jefferson Motel was cited.
Should the owners be convicted, a judge could set conditions or limitations on how the nightspot is operated.
It was the second time in a week that city police have taken action involving the Otter House. Early July 27, police raided the business in search of illegal drugs and related items.
Only three prescription pills and a small amount of marijuana were found in the raid, which included an adjacent apartment in which a former employee lives. No charges were filed that day associated with the raid, but police said they expect to file charges at some point.
An affidavit for a search warrant shows that police had been conducting periodic surveillance on the business and the apartment since April and had observed what officers believe were drug transactions.
The affidavit states that a controlled buy was made on May 4 inside the business by a confidential informant.