WARREN - A lawsuit that accused three men of working together to wreck the restaurant was dismissed because Sunrise Inn of Warren ''achieved its goal'' of preventing its old next door neighbor, the former Sunset Lounge, and defendants in the case from ''conducting operations'' at the same East Market Street location.
That's according to a news release attorney Dick Goodman sent after he filed a notice to dismiss the rare civil racketeering lawsuit, which has now led to further court action.
Attorney Martin White, who's defending Warren businessman Robert Cregar in the case, asked visiting Judge Virgil Lee Sinclair on Monday for a hearing to prove that the lawsuit was frivolous and that Cregar should be awarded thousands of dollars in legal fees for having to defend himself against it.
White said Cregar had ''zero'' involvement with the bar; he did not own the building, derived no income from the bar's operation and had no part in the lease agreement between the building's former owner, Joseph Sankey Jr. and LaShawn Ziegler, whose company, Dream Team Promotions, ran the bar.
''There is no evidence to the contrary because no such evidence exists,'' White said.
The lawsuit alleged that Cregar, owner of All American Big Bob's Bail Bonding, and two other men, Joseph Sankey Jr., a former Big Bob's bail bondsman who owned the building across that street from the Sunrise Inn that housed the controversial, now-closed Sunset Lounge, and LaShawn Ziegler, whose Dream Team Promotions operated the Sunset Lounge, worked together to ruin the restaurant, co-owned by Ken Haidaris.
It also claimed that money from the Sunset Lounge was redirected to Cregar's bail bonding business and other businesses he owns.
The lawsuit sought as much as $3.7 million in damages and to dissolve businesses owned by Cregar, Ziegler's Dream Team Promotions, and Blue Magoo's Ventures LLC, Sankey's company that did business at the former bar. It also sought permanent revocation of Blue Magoo's liquor license.
Goodman, who filed the dismissal paperwork on Oct. 11, was left a message seeking comment on Monday.
An emailed news release from Goodman on Oct. 17, a day after the Tribune Chronicle reported the lawsuit's dismissal, said it was dismissed because the goal of preventing the Sunset Lounge and defendants from operating there again was met.
Sankey has sold the building to The Movement church, which has been renovating the space. Because of the sale, ''the Sunrise will no longer be at risk to continued criminal activity that existed at the former Sunset Lounge,'' according to the release.
The release, in part, said the church will ''offer a new and fresh environment to the area and contribute to the economic and more character of the neighborhood.''
The bar has been closed since the start of 2013, when a 25-year-old man was shot to death at a New Year's celebration there. Sankey, who also owns the liquor permit, twice placed it in what is called ''temporary closing authority,'' a status with the state that lets the holder stop operating for 180 days.
The closure was done through an agreement with Warren that headed off the city seeking a nuisance abatement in court. The agreement also called for, in part, the food service license to be surrendered back to Warren.
Still, there are other matters involving the liquor permit remain outstanding. Sankey's Blue Magoo's Ventures still faces five permit violations from an August 2012 inspection and there's Warren's challenge to a state decision overruling its objection to the renewal of the 2012-13 permit held by Blue Magoo's. Both cases are before Ohio's Liquor Control Commission.