LAPORTE | A bouncer at a downtown LaPorte bar that city officials have been attempting to shut down has been accused of purchasing cocaine inside the establishment.
Robert Gurnaski Jr., 37, of LaPorte, has been charged in LaPorte Circuit Court with Class D felony possession of cocaine following his arrest this past week at Avenue Bar.
''When you have an establishment like that, it just gives the whole downtown area a black eye,'' said LaPorte Mayor Kathy Chroback.
According to court documents, on June 3 police went to the bar to arrest Tyrone Hicks on an outstanding warrant. Police went inside the men's room and found Hicks along with Gurnaski.
Individually wrapped packages of cocaine were located inside a trash can in the bathroom, police said. A small amount of paper currency was also found on the lid of the trash can.
Police also found Gurnaski with a small amount of cocaine. Gurnaski admitted to just purchasing some from Hicks in the bathroom, court documents revealed.
Last year, the state overturned a decision by the city's alcoholic beverage commission not to renew Avenue Bar's liquor license. The local board on April 7 again voted not to renew the license, a decision expected to draw an appeal downstate by license holder, Kyle Kirkham.
His license expires Aug. 18, but he can continue to operate if there's an appeal pending, said Jennifer Fultz, spokeswoman for the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
In recent years, Avenue Bar has been the site of numerous calls including fights and stabbings, police said.
Chroback said some of the activity, including an occasional defecating on a sidewalk, goes on outside the bar, something she and many others see as unfit particularly for a business along Lincolnway.
''Its just a bad situation and we can't tolerate it anymore,'' Chroback said.
Gurnaski was given an Aug. 10 omnibus hearing date.