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Hempstead Town effort to dismiss Billy Dean's cabaret lawsuit to be heard in federal court

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray is shown at

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray is shown at a campaign event in Franklin Square on Nov. 1, 2015. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

A federal judge is to hear arguments Friday seeking to dismiss a lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead by North Bellmore strip-club owner William Stephen Dean.

The town and officials named in the lawsuit, including outgoing Supervisor Kate Murray, are seeking to dismiss the action filed Aug. 20, 2014, after the town denied an application to open a cabaret in Wantagh.

U.S. Eastern District Judge John Gleeson set a Friday hearing in Brooklyn for motions from the town to dismiss Dean's lawsuit claiming that the town violated his civil rights by preventing the Wantagh club from opening and denying his application with the towns building department and Board of Appeals.

The town initially granted the application but rescinded it in 2011 when officials ruled Dean didn't fully report its planned use. The town's decision was upheld by the New York State Appellate Division in February 2014.

Dean had sought to open the Mile High Club cabaret since 2011 on his property at 3500 Sunrise Hwy. to provide live entertainment, Coney Island sideshow-style knife-throwing and seminude dancers. Dean also owns and operates Billy Dean's Showtime Cafe in North Bellmore, which he bills as "Long Island's No. 1 Strip Club."

Murray and then-Nassau County Legis. Michael Venditto held a news conference at the Wantagh site last year. The town said they were fighting the lawsuit and cabaret's approval because the property is near a residential neighborhood. Residents vigorously opposed the project because homes on Locust Avenue are directly behind the building that formerly housed Classic Car Steakhouse.

Attorneys representing the town from the Garden City firm Berman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy & Fenchel wrote in court filings that Dean does not have jurisdiction to file the suit because the property does not qualify for a special use permit.

"The fact that plaintiffs urge a tangential impact on protected freedoms of expression does not overcome the woefully jurisdictionally fatal deficiencies of their complaint," the attorneys stated.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene Rosario Lindsay issued a protective order Sept. 21 blocking Murray from being deposed in the case because she was protected as a top elected official.

Dean's Manhattan-based attorney, Erica Tamar Dubno, said she may still pursue a deposition from Murray once she leaves her position as supervisor in January, after losing the election for Nassau County district attorney.

"Kate Murray had direct personal knowledge of this issue and was actively campaigning against it while trespassing on the property," Dubno said. "She should not be immune from being deposed. She can't hide behind her office because she did play an important role."

If the lawsuit is allowed to proceed, the judge could set a trial date.

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