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RI Commerce Corp Member’s Club Facing Lawsuit and Eviction

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Manchester 65

The West Warwick nightclub owned by Rhode Island Commerce Corporation board member Vanessa Toledo-Vickers is currently the defendant in a lawsuit filed by property owner Evolution Mill — and is facing an eviction hearing in November. 

Manchester 65, which was at the center of a fire inspection investigation this past spring that found a full kerosene heater and blocked doorways on the premises, is due to come before Judge William Clifton on November 5. 

Toledo-Vickers declined to talk with GoLocal about the establishment, which is run by her husband Jim Vickers, following a Commerce Corporation meeting on Monday.   Her business ownership interest in the club is not listed in her biography on the Commerce website, which Governor Gina Raimondo said on Monday she saw no reason to include, saying it was "in Toledo-Vickers' initial Commerce application."  

Manchester 65 had already been named as a defendant in the lawsuit at the time Raimondo announced new members to the Commerce board, including Vickers-Toledo, in April. 

"I'm aware of this controversy.  To me it went back to transparency — if you're not ashamed, why wasn’t it listed?” asked West Warwick State Representative Patricia Morgan on Tuesday.  “So now they’re saying you’ve got to put in an APRA request to find out this information? When you put in an APRA they are draggingly slow.  I'm a legislator, and if I have an ask, I now have to submit an APRA request. Now it's APRA all the time, and they take forever."

Arrest Record, Business Ownership Interests Asked on Club Application

Page one of the docket sheet for the lawsuit filed by Manchester 65's landlord against the club (see larger image below).

In her application for a license for Manchester 65 with the Town of West Warwick dated September 30, 2014, Toledo-Vickers responds “no” to the question if any “officers, board members, or stock holders have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.”

James Vickers has thirteen arrests on file with the State of Rhode Island Court System starting with a felony larceny charge in 1985, to six instances of driving on a suspended licenses between 2005 and 2012, and was convicted on a domestic assault charge in 1997 with a nolo contendere plea. 

Toledo-Vickers also responded “no” to "other business ownership interests" on the Manchester 65 license application filed in September 2014; a January 2015 filing with the Rhode Island Secretary of State lists her as the President of Virtual Marketing Associates which she founded in 2000.  

Vickers did not respond to request for comment on the lawsuit or arrests on Tuesday; Evolution Mill lawyer Gregory Tumolo declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.

Fire Safety Issues Broached

GoLocal reported that a former promoter for the club raised issues about heating and the use of propane on the premises (which Vickers denied) while he was there through 2014; the Kent County Daily Times reported in March 2015 that multiple violations were found in an inspection of the mill complex, including a full kerosene heater stored in a closet, and blocked doorways, at Manchester 65.

David Kane, who has been an outspoken advocate for fire safety enforcement in Rhode Island since his son Nick O'Neill was killed in the Station Fire in West Warwick in 2003, said he could “give a verse on foolishness that has continued since the [Station] Fire.”

Page two of the docket sheet showing an eviction hearing scheduled for November 5 (see below for larger).

“For anyone to think that anything’s changed [since the Station Fire] is out of their minds,” said Kane. “They’re trying to raise money for a Station Fire memorial. It’s not about remembering the people who died, the people who were seriously injured. [We] all do that already. What we need to do is stop this s--t right now, and so kids can say, 'Look, that’s what happens when elected officials don’t do their jobs.”

The Times reported in March that Vickers-Toledo’s club was reopened the following day after the violations were "addressed."

Kane noted that at the Station nightclub, the West Warwick Fire Marshal had gone in and increased the maximum capacity allowed three separate times before the fire that killed 100.  

“This isn’t a West Warwick issue, it’s a statewide issue,” said Kane. "And we have the obligation to follow-up."


Related Slideshow: Most Dangerous Intersections in Rhode Island

Using the most recent available data, GoLocalProv has compiled a list of the Most Dangerous Intersections in New England.

See the methodology here

Since different states chose different time spans in which to accumulate their data (3-10 years), GoLocal standardized the tallies to a 3-year sum.

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