The owner of Madison Square Garden is accused of tailing the state liquor inspector for 100 miles from private investigators
Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan is accused of hiring a private investigator to track a liquor inspector 100 miles amid a bitter feud over state liquor laws.
Dolan, who has an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion, rolled out facial recognition software in his arena to identify and ban attorneys working to sue him.
The bizarre tactic prompted the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to launch an investigation into whether he violated state laws requiring facilities to serve the general public. After Dolan got wind of the investigation, he reportedly located the agency’s inspector, Charles Stravalle, and ordered a private investigator to follow him home.
Dolan’s alleged black-and-white tactic is the latest in a series of clashes with the Alcohol Enforcement Agency that could reportedly jeopardize the mogul’s ambitions to build a sprawling $2.2 billion Las Vegas pleasure resort.
The episode marked Dolan’s apparent desire to hit back at the Alcohol Enforcement Agency’s investigation, including one at his embattled nightclub, Lavo – the sale of which is key to his Las Vegas development project.
MSG Entertainment denied Stravalle’s tail was linked to the nightclub sale when contacted by DailyMail.com, despite the inspector already investigating the Manhattan hotspot last month.
James Dolan, pictured, is said to have ordered a PI to tail an inspector at the state liquor licensing board amid a bitter liquor licensing feud
Dolan, who owns Madison Square Garden pictured, was involved in a bitter feud with the SLA over the renewal of the arena’s liquor license
Dolan’s company, MSG Entertainment, has admitted hiring the private investigator but defended the tactic as “common and lawful practice.”
Stravalle says he realized he was being tailed by a black Chevrolet about 100 miles after spotting the vehicle on his back all day earlier this month.
When Stravalle again spotted the same car parked outside his Queens home and witnessed the driver point a camera at him, Stravalle called police.
Dolan’s rivalry with the State Liquor Authority inspector reportedly flared up in February after Stravalle was assigned to investigate Dolan’s Manhattan hot spot Lavo after a reveler was slashed in the face.
After an inspection, Stravalle found more than 30 violations, including unauthorized fireworks at a meat cutter covered in “old food,” according to the New York Times.
The potentially perilous discoveries came as the nightclub, owned by MSG Entertainment’s Tao Group, is seeking to be sold by Dolan while trying to auction off the subsidiary to fund its Vegas megastructure.
But his clash with Stravalle comes amid a years-long rivalry with the Liquor Authority, which has also seen Dolan publicly mock the body as a killjoy aimed at depriving sports fans of beer.
In addition to his responsibility for Madison Square Garden and numerous facilities throughout New York, Dolan’s company also owns the Knicks and the Rangers.
His legendary arena’s license to operate a sports arena in New York City expires in July, and Dolan’s attempts to permanently renew the license have reportedly been the subject of heated debate within the licensing board.
At the same time, the New York State Senate is also seeking a $43 million-a-year property tax exemption for the garden.
James Dolan, right, is CEO of MSG Entertainment, which also owns sports teams Knicks and Rangers
The alleged shadowing of Stravalle came not long after SLA inspectors investigated Dolan’s Lavo nightclub in Manhattan. His company, MSG Entertainment, denied the move had any connection to the nightclub
As pressure mounted, Dolan installed facial recognition software, a move he defended, and banned several attorneys after they claimed they were working for the state agency to revoke the arena’s liquor license.
In a controversial petition filed in Manhattan Supreme Court this month, Dolan’s company reportedly asked a judge to drop the agency’s investigation into its businesses, saying they are a “gangster-like government organization.”
And in a statement to DailyMail.com, MSG’s co-counsel Jim Walden of Walden Macht & Haran said: “MSG didn’t start this. What’s happening at the SLA is just inappropriate – it’s a bureaucracy out of control.
“We have found credible evidence of actual collusion, in which the SLA was armed to comply with orders from the Plantiffs’ lawyers.
“Now the SLA is blocking our efforts to get all the evidence. We will uncover SLA’s wrongdoing through the legal means available to us in MSG’s defense.’
In light of Stravalle’s crusade against Dolan, the filing also alleges that he launched a “harassment campaign against MSG.”
“Stravalle spent almost half the time asking questions unrelated to the alleged purpose of the SLA’s investigation,” the filing said, referring to a recent interview the former officer had with Dolan.
“Instead, he asked questions based on speculative media reports or shared his own take on venue policy. He was combative and antagonistic throughout the interview.’
Dolan’s use of facial recognition software to keep his legal opponents off Madison Square Garden came as his feud with the liquor agency escalated.
But he defended the tactic in an interview with Good Day New York in January, saying: “If you sue us, all we ask is please don’t come until you’re done with your argument with us – the end.”
“And yes, we use facial recognition to enforce that.”
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11877491/Madison-Square-Garden-owner-accused-having-state-liquor-inspector-TAILED-PI-100-miles.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 The owner of Madison Square Garden is accused of tailing the state liquor inspector for 100 miles from private investigators