Man denies illegal nightclub allegation as police hand out nearly $6,000 in fines in Surrey
VANCOUVER -- Surrey RCMP said they handed out thousands of dollars in COVID-related fines at an illegal nightclub over the weekend, and gave the host a notice to appear in court. But the man accused in the case is denying those allegations.
Jegbefumere Albert doesn’t deny he had people over on the weekend, but says it was for his daughter’s birthday.
“I just have a few friends over, with like drinking and having a conversation, playing music,” he said. “Next thing, we just hear like a big bang on the door.”
Albert showed reporters the inside of the unit where he lives and runs a towing company at a commercial complex on King George Boulevard that backs onto 135A Street. In the main living space, couches and a small coffee table were set up, as well as some equipment Albert said he uses for sound mixing, as part of music and concert production work he’s involved in. There was also a small bedroom.
“It’s not a nightclub,” he said. “I live here. I have my bed in here.”
Cpl. Joanie Sidhu with the Surrey RCMP said officers executed a search warrant at the location shortly after 1 a.m. on Feb. 7, and found 22 people inside.
“Alcohol was being sold on the premises,” she said. “This was a location that was operating as a nightclub.”
Sidhu said 26 fines of $230 each were handed out for attending a non-compliant event, failing to wear a face-covering, and belligerent behaviour.
She said they have also ticketed the host before for allegedly hosting gatherings, but this time he was given a notice to appear in court.
“Because this was a reoccurring situation, we had to increase our enforcement efforts and that’s why the decision was made now to pursue charges,” Sidhu said. “Now he will be looking at a charge under...the Emergency Protection Act, and that is for hosting a non-compliant event.”
Albert says alcohol was not being sold.
“That’s a lie. It’s not a club,” he said. “People have parties in their house, that doesn't mean they’re having a nightclub.”
Albert confirmed receiving two previous tickets: once last August when he said there were three people at his place, the second time in January.
That time, he said police responded to a report involving a weapon, broke windows, and he was bitten by a police dog.
RCMP confirmed the emergency response team attended and came across a party.
Albert said he understands even large private gatherings aren’t allowed right now.
“We understand there is COVID and they are probably doing their job, but they’re not doing their job in the proper way,” he said.
There’s no word yet on when the matter will be in court.