Police to return Bar-B-Q King restaurant to leaseholders
STAR TRIBUNE (Mpls.-St. Paul) Newspaper of the Twin Cities
Kevin Diaz; Staff Writer
The saga of the much-maligned Bar-B-Q King restaurant took another odd turn Monday when St. Paul police announced they will release the building to its leaseholders, three weeks after police had seized the property in an effort to halt illegal activities there.
In a terse statement issued yesterday afternoon, St. Paul Police Chief William McCutcheon said the seizure was being withdrawn reluctantly on the advice of the city attorney's office, which had warned about the possibility of a lawsuit over the police action.
"Although we strongly object to this legal action, we feel it is wise to yield to the advice of counsel," McCutcheon said. Although somewhat of a setback for police, who have been investigating the alleged fencing of stolen property for drugs at the Bar-B-Q King, the latest move is far from a defeat, they said.
"We feel pretty comfortable in the fact that we tried, and that the attempt will still result in the business being gone," said Deputy Police Chief John Nord.
According to Nord and McCutcheon, the owner of the Bar-B-Q property at 474 University Av. W. has started proceedings to evict leaseholder Joycelyn Boykin, daughter of Bar-B-Q King operator Louis Boykin.
Thomas Newcome III, a St. Paul attorney reprsenting the owner, Nathan Salute of Palm Desert, Calif., said he is not authorized to confirm whether eviction proceedings are underway.
A notice posted on the door of the Bar-B-Q King, which is closed, indicates Joycelyn Boykin has been delinquent in her payments and the property is for sale.
Louis Boykin, 60, who has been arrested more than 50 times in the past 12 years, faces charges in Ramsey County District Court of possessing cocaine and stolen property. He is free on $7,500 bond. Louis Boykin also has a charge pending for trespassing in the restaurant last month after police had shut it down. His attorney, Earl Gray, said Boykin's arrest and the property seizure were made without proper legal authoritity.
The police seizure was under challenge by Joycelyn Boykin's attorney, Andrew Engebretson, who filed notice of his intent to sue the city of St. Paul and members of the police department. Engebretson declined to comment on the police decision to lift the seizure because, he said, the matter is still under negotiation. Frank E. Villaume III, an assistant St. Paul city attorney who handled the case, also declined to discuss the matter, citing attorney-client privilege between his office and police. Nord, however, said the decision to turn the property back over to the Boykins was made because of uncertainty over the building's ownership. "We didn't really have a choice because of the legalities," Nord said. "We weren't able to take control of the property because the ownership was clouded."
The Ramsey County attorney's office also has said that the seizure should be withdrawn because there is no evidence that the absentee landlord knew what was going on there. Police, acting under a new state law allowing seizure of chronic crime locales, had raided and boarded up the restaurant Oct. 8 after finding large amounts of stolen property there.
McCutcheon said the city attorney's office notified police last Thursday that lawyers for the leaseholder planned to file suit and that the property should be turned back to them.