City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who last year successfully shuttered underground Excelsior gambling establishment Next Stop Business Center, is once again in crackdown mode. As the Weekly notes, this time his target is Kingston Shack, a business at 3437 Mission Street that conspicuously lacks a phone number. That establishment, claim Herrera and his office, harbors illegal gambling and, not least, the related crime attending it.
Specifically Herrera alleges that patrons are solicited to play electronic slots for cash payouts. "Illicit gambling dens like Kingston Shack are a terrible neighborhood nuisance,” Herrera said. “They inevitably harbor criminal activity, they diminish residents’ quality of life, and it’s no surprise that they quickly emerge as major targets of neighbors’ complaints. I hope my lawsuit today sends a clear message that we actively partner with our Police Department to shut these nuisances down, and that we will aggressively pursue maximum civil penalties to deter this kind of lawlessness."
Defendants named in the civil action are Marlene Cruz, Norma Estrada and John Gregory Ibarra, owners or operators of the alleged enterprise. Also named are Lien Sheng Ho and Jian Rong Ma, trustees of the Ho/Ma Family Trust, who own the property that houses Kingston Shack. They stand accused of violating the state's "Red Light Abatement Act," California Penal Code section 330b, and San Francisco Municipal Police Code sections 325-327, which speaks to operation of illegal slot machines. They're also accused of violating California's Unfair Competition Law by engaging in unlawful business practice.
According to the action, Kinston Shack couldn't take a hint. Multiple citations were issued to no avail. But now, says Herrera, "I’m certain that Kingston Shack’s owners and operators will come to regret that they didn’t take warnings from police more seriously.” A court could rule to permanently close the establishment for a year, to secure penalties of $25,000 against each of the five named defendants, and to issue additional, significant civil penalties amounting up to $2,500 for each unlawful business act that's proven in trial.