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By Gus Bode

The city filed a response to a federal lawsuit filed by the owner of Callahan’s, Cali’s and Stix, pushing to drop charges against the mayor and allegations that a city ordinance is unconstitutional.

In December, Greg Knoob, the owner of Callahan’s, Cali’s and Stix, and Sam Mrofcza, the manager of those establishments, filed a federal lawsuit against Mayor Brad Cole, the City of Carbondale and Carbondale Police Sgt. Mark Diedrick. Knoob and Mrofcza alleged police illegally seized a video camera and denied their rights to due process and equal protection under the law.

The 17-page complaint, filed Dec. 3, alleges violations of Fourth and 14th Amendment rights in a series of events that date back to winter of 2007. The city’s response, filed March 17, acknowledges the events in the complaint, but denies Knoob and Mrofcza’s allegations of bias.

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The city’s response also requests a jury trial.

Cole has said he has no personal vendetta against Knoob.

‘I would prefer that they run their business according to the laws that are on the book and then there aren’t any problems,’ Cole said in December.

On Dec. 2, the Liquor Control Commission charged Knoob Enterprises $1,000, on Cole’s recommendation, for the July 13 incident, which resulted in charges of cannabis possession, public drinking and fighting, City Attorney Jamie Snyder said in December.

Knoob said the money is not what matters to him. Mrofcza and Knoob allege violations of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment for penalizing them for a July 13 incident over which Knoob said they had no control.

‘I’ll write them a $1,000 check every day if they’ll just leave me alone,’ Knoob said. ‘They’re kind of chasing me out of town. I’m probably not going to be here much longer. The clubs will stay open. Trust me, I’ll still own them, but I’m probably moving out of town.’

In its response to the suit, the city moved to drop the sixth charge, which questioned the constitutionality of city ordinance 2-5-3. City officials cited the ordinance when fining Knoob for the July 13 incident. Rich Whitney, Knoob’s attorney, said the city’s insurance company is paying to defend itself against the lawsuit but will not cover the sixth charge.

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The city also moved to remove Cole, in his official capacity, from the case, stating that a claim against the City of Carbondale is a claim against Cole as a city official and is therefore redundant, according to the response. Whitney would not comment about whether official capacity includes Cole’s position as chairman of the Liquor Control Commission in addition to that of mayor.

Whitney said he would not comment further.

Cole said he would not comment on pending litigation.

City Attorney Michael Kimmel said he would not comment on pending litigation.

Knoob said he had not read the documents and would not comment.

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