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Quick and Dirty

Penury at Paloma's

Legal Troubles for Owners of Baltimore Nightclub

By Van Smith | Posted 1/31/2007

The debts keep mounting at Paloma's, the erstwhile Mount Vernon nightclub that reopened last spring in the Mount Clare neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore ("Club Dreams," Mobtown Beat, May 3, 2006). Last August, the parents of Jason Crebs, one of the club's liquor licensees and a partner in a proposed deal to open a larger club called Eris on South Monroe Street, won a court judgment of nearly $265,000 against the remaining partners, Martha River Bitton Fogle and Robert A. Fogle Jr. ("River Runs Dry," Quick and Dirty, Aug. 23, 2006). In November, that judgment was superseded by a lesser amount--nearly $143,000--that remains contested, and the case is scheduled for trial on Valentine's Day. Bitton and her husband, Robert Fogle, have gone through two attorneys in the case, the second one withdrawing in early January after a $5,000 check they cut to him bounced.

In December, Wachovia Bank sued Spanky 817 LLC, the company that operates Paloma's, for nearly $17,500 due to overdrafts on the company's checking account. That case is scheduled for trial on March 7. Bitton (whose last name is also spelled Biton in many records) has other active judgments against her totaling about $71,000, some of them dating back to the mid-1990s, and recently had a writ of garnishment entered against Eris 718 LLC, the company formed to operate the stalled Eris nightclub proposal, in a case involving nearly $19,000 that dates back to 2001, when Paloma's was still located on Eager Street. On top of that, Bitton, Fogle, and Crebs (none of whom could be reached for this article) presumably remain responsible for $10,000 per month payments on the $1.8 million purchase of the Monroe Street properties that were intended to house Eris.

Despite the financial challenges, Paloma's apparently is still open, according to neighbors. The Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners file for the club also indicates it is still operating, since liquor inspectors and cops nabbed the place for serving an underage police cadet last fall, earning the club $450 in fines and fees.

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