The City Cracks Down on Illegal Nightclubs and an Underground Casino in Hollywood

City Attorney Mike Feuer filed charges against individuals his office alleges have been operating illicit businesses for months

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has filed 17 criminal charges against three businesses—a casino and two nightclubs—it says have been operating illegally within spitting distance of Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

“We allege the people behind these clubs have put their customers and everyone in harm’s way,” L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a news statement on Thursday. “That must stop.”

The owners and operators of an alleged nightclub located at 800 N. El Centro Avenue—Rami Ben-Moshe, Jason Williams, and Khani Rice—were charged with a variety of crimes including dispensing alcohol without a license, live music and dance hall without a permit, and a noise violation.

The Los Angeles Police Department apparently started receiving complaints about the alleged nightclub, which is located in a residential area, in August. According to Feuer’s statement, when officers first inspected the location, they found a large party where alcohol was being sold and DJs were playing loud music. Police broke up the party, arrested several people, and recovered guns.

Later that month, officers responded to complaints about another party at the same location, where witnesses reported hearing at least 20 gun shots. Police discovered that a male victim had been shot several times in his face and body, officials said. Authorities recovered a handgun and several shell casings from the scene, and also found multiple bullet holes in the building next door to the alleged nightclub.

On two separate occasions in early September, LAPD officers went to the location again, found people partying, and made arrests. They recovered two additional handguns and confiscated DJ equipment, officials said.

“No Angeleno should be forced to contend with a noisy, unlicensed nightclub next door – especially one that had a shooting and multiple guns found on property,” Feuer said in a statement.

Ben-Moshe, 61, and Williams, 43, both face up to five years in jail and $10,000 in penalties, the City Attorney’s office said. Rice, 24, faces one year in jail with a maximum penalty of $2,000.

Francesco Conte, the operator of the alleged underground nightclub located at 6024 Santa Monica Boulevard, has been charged with four criminal charges, including dispensing alcohol without a license, operating dance hall without a permit, and a noise violation. The space is located in Auto Plaza, a Hollywood Forever-adjacent strip mall mostly populated with car-related businesses, like muffler and repair shops.

When officers responded to complaints about a party at the location, they found large quantities of alcohol and narcotics, officials said. Conte, 53, faces two years in jail and $4,000 maximum penalties.

Brandon Chang, the operator of the alleged casino located at 5547 Santa Monica Boulevard, has been charged with one count of illegal use of land.

Chang—who officials said admitted to operating the illegal casino—had been running it out of a two-story commercial building, which houses a market, swap meet, and what appears to be a Presbyterian Church. In August, the LAPD took a report from a victim who said he was at the casino when he was beaten and robbed by another patron. One week later, officers sent an informant to the location and they were allegedly able to purchase methamphetamine.

A few weeks later, police executed a search warrant and discovered gambling equipment, ammunition, and large quantities of cannabis. Officers arrested several people who were wanted on outstanding warranties and parole violations, officials said. Chang, 29, faces six months in jail and $1,000 in penalties.

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