See the earlier story.Since this is being reported in the New York Post, it’s got one of their characteristically impenetrable and ungrammatical headlines: BOUNCER SLAY TWIST. Here’s the story, with annotations:
I knew that already. His door wasn’t locked, there was no sign of a struggle, and he was sitting on his sofa watching TV.
November 19, 2005 — A murdered strip-club bouncer found shot dead inside his Brooklyn apartment was killed by someone he knew, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.
The Sweet Cherry is a sleazy waterfront strip club. It’s not the only one in that area. Remember hearing about the cleanup of Times Square? Sleaze never gets “cleaned up”, if by that you mean it goes away permanently. Sleaze just relocates. One of the places it went is Third Avenue in Brooklyn, underneath the Gowanus Parkway (I-278), and some of the waterfront blocks near the 39th Street exit, which is the only exit from the Gowanus along that stretch.
Irving Matos, 42, who worked at Sunset Park’s “Sweet Cherry,” …
What does this area have in common with Times Square? Simple: it’s easy to travel there from outlying areas. This is the second time I’ve lived relatively close to a Designated Crime Area—you know, one of those places even half-wits know to go to in pursuit of their particular vice. That’s what red light districts are for: to keep sin bounded in a particular area so the customers know where to find it.
The last time I lived near a DCA, we were on Fairview Avenue near 190th and Broadway, at the far northern end of Manhattan. The crack epidemic was in full swing, and the bleeping New York Times was printing stories about how the 180th Street neighborhood was the place to go for drugs. We groaned in despair when we saw that. Sure enough, next thing you know there’s all these jerks from the New Jersey suburbs driving in over the George Washington Bridge, looking to score.
Let ‘em buy drugs in their own neighborhoods, sez I.Anyway, I digress. More on the Sweet Cherry in a bit.
Please don’t come looking. There’s nothing to see. 31st street is lined on both sides with nearly indistinguishable row houses full of irritable Brooklynites.
…was discovered murdered about 11 p.m. Wednesday, slumped over a couch with his TV on inside his basement apartment on 31st Street.
I think I met him, if he was the big genial gray-haired guy who was hanging around out on the sidewalk late Wednesday night. He told me he’d come to check on Matos after he’d missed work, so it could very well be.
The club’s owner went to the apartment after Matos failed to show up for work for seven days, police said.
How I found out it was murder: One of the detectives asked me whether I’d heard anything that sounded like someone playing with a cap gun. I looked at him for a moment in polite disbelief, then said, “You mean, someone popping off with a .22.”
Initially, police believed Matos had died of natural causes. An investigation launched by the Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Matos had been shot in the top of the head and that the bullet that killed him lodged in his tongue, the sources said.
He ducked his head and mumbled that yes, that was what he’d meant. “We recovered a fragment,” he said—that’d be the bullet lodged in the tongue—then added, “We still haven’t ruled out suicide.”
“Surely you’d be able to tell if it was suicide,” I said. People who shoot themselves in the head don’t usually tidy up afterward.
He mumbled something more about how sometimes friends or family come by, don’t want to admit what’s happened, and take the gun away with them. I tried to imagine that, but couldn’t. Irvin Matos lived alone, and seldom had visitors. I’m supposed to believe in friends or family who made an unaccustomed visit to his place, found the body, cared enough about appearances to tamper with the evidence in a violent death, but didn’t bother to make an anonymous phone call to let the authorities know that the guy was sitting there decomposing? And who went off leaving the door unsecured?
I know there are reasons for the police to try to be discreet about their investigations, so I did my best to keep a straight face. Mostly I felt sorry for the officer. It must be hard to avoid giving people the idea that someone shot the deceased when you’re having to ask them whether they heard something that sounded like a cap gun.I told him everything I knew. There wasn’t much of it, and none of it was terribly interesting. Near as I can tell, I was in Madison, WI when Irving Matos died. When he was alive, he and I mostly talked about our gardens. He grew up here, so he told me as much as he could remember about the old lady who gardened in what’s now my back yard. That’s all. I’m just the next-door neighbor. It’s a quiet block.
I don’t know what they found, but the police did ask me whether Matos ever talked about “all those guns he owned.” They said he “worked in security.” I can’t tell whether he’s he same Irving Matos mentioned here and here in 1999. I don’t necessarily assume he is. There could be two different people named Irving Matos who could both be described as “working in security.”
The victim’s door appeared to be broken—but authorities suspect that occurred prior to the murder, sources said. Matos’ home appeared to be neat and tidy and there was no immediate indication that he had any debts connected to drugs or gambling.
More about Sweet Cherry: First, I was amused to see it used as the standard of comparison when a reviewer wanted to indicate that another club was less trashy than it might be.Perhaps more to the point, earlier this year the club was the focus of a six-month-long sting operation that netted multiple arrests:
Finally, there turns out to be a bloggy connection to the Sweet Cherry bust. It was reported by one Karol in a fairly lame right-wing weblog called
Brooklyn, May 3, 2005 – Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the arrest of five people on charges of selling marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy out of the Sweet Cherry Topless Entertainment Bar in Sunset Park.
“The bar is the subject of disturbing allegations concerning drug sales, prostitution and underage strippers. It is a blight on the neighborhood,” said District Attorney Hynes.
Sweet Cherry, at 202 42nd Street, came to the attention of the DA’s Office in October 2004, when its owner, Gabriel Bertonazzi, 44, was arrested for allegedly raping a 16 year-old girl who applied for a job as a topless dancer. His rape case is pending in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He was subsequently also charged in the rape of a second dancer. It is alleged that he forced dancers to have sex with him, to be hired.
The DA’s Office has received numerous complaints from the community about illicit activity at Sweet Cherry and the sex industry along the western perimeter of Sunset Park, in general.
Following Bertonazzi’s arrest for Rape in the First Degree, Rape in the Third Degree, Assault in the Second Degree, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office initiated a six-month investigation into the club’s operations. Detective Investigators purchased cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy from five Sweet Cherry managers and dancers. Bertonazzi, out on bail for the rape case, allegedly sold cocaine and marijuana to undercover agents on two occasions.Yesterday, Detective Investigators from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office arrested all five suspects and executed a search warrant on Sweet Cherry, where they recovered financial records for the club. Prosecutors will inspect the books for evidence of tax evasion and money laundering from the drug sales.
What is it about Republicans and tacky sex? They can’t all be into sleaze, can they?
Addenda: Today (29 November 2005) I broke the links to Karol and Jessica’s websites, after it was suggested that the reason they keep trolling the comment thread is to increase their traffic. If you want the links, look at the source code.Here’s Lin Daniel’s take on their presence in the conversation:
I’ve read all your posts And I’ve just missed the point.
Does anyone notice
My nose out of joint?
I’ve read all your posts And I haven’t a clue,
So I’ll make accusations
That just don’t fit you.
I’ve read all your posts And I’ve come back for more.
Let’s make this thread longer
With misquotes galore.
We’ve read all your posts
Let’s throw in the towel.
We’ll make this thread shorter
And remove all your vowels.