By Jamie Wiggan
State and local police seized cash and liquor from adult nightclub True Diamonds in Stowe as part of an investigation into illegal alcohol sales March 25.
In total, officers confiscated 4.5 gallons of beer, 48 liters of liquor and wine and $1,025 in cash according to a report released by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (LCE).
Ryan Tarkowski, state police communications director, said the department could not disclose details on the nature of the illegal sales while the investigation is ongoing. As of March 30, no charges had been filed against the club.
The Island Avenue nightclub has run into licensing issues with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) since coronavirus restrictions were issued last spring, and was served with a close order May 28, 2020 in response to several violation complaints, said Amie Downs, county communications director.
“As a business that is attempting to open during the pandemic they are also subject to meeting the requirements featured in the state’s COVID-19 mitigation orders,” Downs said in an email. “For instance, this establishment is proposing to serve alcoholic drinks, and under the state’s COVID-19 orders, it must also provide food. Additionally, it is our understanding that True Diamonds intends on operating as a nightclub, which is still prohibited under the state’s current order.”
In a letter to the ACHD dated June 2020, club owners Matthew Marshall and Morgan Young stated “we do not serve food, we serve free beverages,” indicating they operate under bottle club laws that permit the distribution of free alcoholic drinks under certain limitations.
The March 25 search follows two recent homicide incidents involving local adult nightclubs that have prompted questions from residents and officials over their role in the neighboring communities of McKees Rocks and Stowe.
In December 2020, a woman was shot and killed outside True Diamonds by a man reported to have been barred from the club. One month later, a shootout in the parking lot of Club Erotica in McKees Rocks left two dead and three wounded Jan. 29.
The Club Erotica homicides prompted an inquiry by District Attorney Steve Zappala’s office, but no further action was taken.
Like True Diamonds, Club Erotica also operates under bottle club laws and was believed to be open during the homicides in contradiction to Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency orders.
Representatives of True Diamonds could not be reached for comment.