By Ed Runyan
The attorney for a Warren bail bondsman named in a civil suit filed by the Sunrise Inn restaurant has asked a Trumbull County judge to dismiss him from the suit.
Robert Cregar, owner of All American Big Bob’s Bail Bonding Inc. of North Park Avenue, filed a motion in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court last week denying that he intentionally conspired to interfere with the business interests of the Sunrise Inn, 510 E. Market St.
The Sunrise filed suit in March against several entities and people — Blue Magoo’s Ventures and its statutory agent, Joe Sankey Jr.; Dream Team Promotions; LaShawn Ziegler; and Cregar, of Newton Falls. The other parties are of Warren.
The suit, filed by Atty. Richard L. Goodman of Niles, accuses the defendants of conspiring to operate the Sunset Lounge, which was next door to the Sunrise at 480 E. Market.
The suit says the defendants acted intentionally to harm the Sunrise by calling itself the Sunset, “connotating the opposite of Sunrise, and engaging in illegal acts such as lewdness, prostitution,” illegal liquor sales and other acts “designed to disrupt the business of Sunrise.”
The suit said the Sunrise has suffered damages in excess of $1.2 million.
The suit said Sankey is owner of Blue Magoo Ventures; Ziegler is owner of Dream Team Productions, which at one time ran the Sunset Lounge and tavern; and Cregar owns the property at 156 Elm Road NE, which was the business address of Dream Team Productions.
The suit said the Warren Police Department was called to the Sunset Lounge 28 times while it was open from May 2012 to Jan. 1, 2013.
The business closed after the New Year’s Day shooting death of Cory Blackwell, 25. Police believe Blackwell was shot to death near the dance floor inside the Sunset Lounge.
Sankey agreed to temporarily surrender the liquor license for the business to the state and end his lease with Ziegler and Dream Team Promotions.
The lawsuit, assigned to Judge W. Wyatt McKay, says Sankey is a licensed bail bondsman for Cregar and that Sherri Sankey, Joe Sankey Jr.’s daughter, was manager of the Sunset Lounge and employed by Cregar at his bail bonding business.
The suit says the defendants and others participated in the affairs of an enterprise, as defined under federal racketeering laws and the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act, intended to ruin the business interests of the Sunrise Inn.
Cregar’s filing, prepared by Atty. Martin F. White of Warren, cites affidavits filed by Cregar and Joe Sankey Jr. in which Cregar says he has never had a business interest in the Sunset Lounge, never committed any of the illegal acts alleged in the lawsuit or any other act that would harm the Sunrise Inn.
Cregar’s affidavit says Cregar has operated his bail-bonding company 10 years and also earns income from commercial and residential real estate and from his General Motors pension. Cregar said Sankey formerly worked as a bail bondsman for him until 2011.
Sankey’s affidavit says he retired after 34 years working at Packard Electric and started working as a bail bondsman about 10 years ago for companies owned by Cregar, including Worldwide Bail Bonding and AABBBB Inc, working as an independent contractor. He said he stopped working for Cregar in 2011.
Sankey said he bought the building at 480 E. Market St. 10 years ago and the vacant lot across East Market Street. Sankey said Cregar did not provide any of the money to purchase the properties.