Vancouver penthouse owner fined over "makeshift nightclub" files police complaint

Feb 1 2021, 6:56 pm

A penthouse owner who Vancouver police have accused of hosting large parties and a “makeshift nightclub” inside his residence has filed an official complaint against the department.

This past Sunday, police said while executing a warrant, they found a nightclub and show lounge operating inside the man’s 1,100-square-foot apartment — saying it was “packed” with people.

“Our officers found 78 people inside the three-level apartment, and none of them were wearing masks,” said VPD Sgt. Steve Addison. “There were menus, tables, point-of-sale terminals, and cash tills.”

He said the 42-year-old party host was arrested under the Public Health Act, and each guest was issued a $230 ticket for failing to wear a face covering.

In total, police issued more than $17,000 in fines to the 77 guests for attending a non-compliant event, contrary to BC’s Emergency Program Act.

This wasn’t the first time police visited the unit. Vancouver police say this weekend’s warrant execution comes after two more large parties were held at the location.

Police complaint over another visit to the condo

But before police visited the condo on Sunday, owner Mo Movassaghi said he was intending to file criminal charges of mischief against the team of VPD officers who attended his Richards Street home two weeks ago — on the evening of Saturday, January 23.

According to the VPD, officers were deployed there after a woman called the police to report she had been invited to a party at the location that night and claimed that when she’d arrived, there were approximately 100 people inside.

In a release two days later, police claimed the gathering was so big it featured a doorman wearing a protective vest, using a counting device, and holding money.

Police also said that two Emergency Program Act tickets totalling $2,500 were issued – one for hosting the event and one for failing to wear a face covering.

In his complaint, Movassaghi says police damaged his property and tried to “break into [his] unit by banging incessantly at the door.” He says officers also would not leave and blocked the fire exit when they came to his home to investigate a potential COVID-19 violation.

“They then broke the peephole and dented the door,” he states. “One of the officers attempted to film inside my unit through the peephole. It was blocked. Officers also blocked the fire exit door and illegally blocked and occupied the fire exit hallway for over one hour.”

“I asked him and his team to leave the premises multiple times and after approximately two hours, at 12:30 am, they left,” Movassaghi says.

Movassaghi said he is filing the criminal complaint against officers involved for the following reasons:

  • “Damaging my door and peephole and causing mischief;
  • Blocking the fire exit and fire exit hallway;
  • Attempting to film inside my private entrance with a peephole camera. This is a violation of privacy.”

In their report last week, police said the residence has been the site of four noise complaints within a month, a number Movassaghi disputed.

He told Daily Hive last week that since moving into the unit in November 2020, he’d had “only one registered noise complaint.” He also questioned who the “mystery witness” was who claimed there were 100 people inside his home.

Asked about the discrepancy regarding the number of noise complaints, as well as the number of guests reported to be inside the home on January 23, VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin told Daily Hive last week that “details from the report and past dealing with the owner indicate there were approximately 100 people in attendance at the party, and that we have been called to his residence four times this year.”

She confirmed that a complaint had been filed against the VPD under the Police Act, in relation to the first incident.

“It is currently with the OPCC to determine admissibly,” she said. “We are awaiting further action from them at this point.”

VPD warns of “stiff fines” for partying rulebreakers

Movassaghi’s arrest comes only a few days after BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry pleaded with British Columbians to “do more” to curb the spread against COVID-19.

With BC’s daily case count averaging around the 500 mark per day, Henry advised last week that more restrictions could come into place if case numbers don’t drop.

Social gatherings of any size are currently banned across British Columbia.

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them. If you are caught hosting or attending a party during the pandemic and continue to break the rules, you could face stiff fines or wind up in jail,” Sgt. Addison said in a statement on Sunday.

Daily Hive has reached out to Movassaghi’s lawyer for comment on this past weekend’s developments.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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