The owner of a backyard club near Roseboro found himself on the wrong side of the law Saturday night, when officers shut down his operation for the evening and charged him with two felonies. Two other people were also caught in the late-night operation.
Frank Blackman, 65, of 170b William Brown Road, was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and trafficking in opiates.
Blackman is owner of the backyard club better known as Peter Rabbits, located behind his William Brown Road residence and the site of at least one murder in the last few years, along with several other illegal incidents that either took place at the club or involved individuals who had just left the venue.
Saturday, agents with the Sampson County Special Investigations Division and N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement conducted an operation at the club, investigating complaints received about the venue, sheriff’s Cpl. Marcus Smith said.
That operation led to Blackman’s arrest, along with two others — Michael Boone, 57, 10903 Christina Park Road, Charlotte, and Justina Phillips, 20, 336 Zoar Church Road, Salemburg.
According to Smith, officers found Blackman in possession of a firearm as well as 17.5 grams of opiates, leading to the two felony charges.
Boone was charged with possession of 0.5 grams of cocaine; and Phillips was cited on the scene for possession of marijuana.
“We have had a lot of complaints on Peter Rabbits,” said sheriff Jimmy Thornton Monday. “Hopefully this will send a message that we are not going to tolerate this kind of activity in Sampson County.”
The operation shut the club down for the night but Smith said officers could not prevent it from opening back up because the club is a part of Blackman’s residence and therefore not under jurisdiction of law enforcement unless criminal activity is reported.
The only time law enforcement can do anything at a back yard club, officers said, is when they have supporting evidence that illegal alcohol or drugs are being sold on premises or being used by those who might frequent the club.
“We closed it for the night, but we have no legal right to keep it closed,” Smith stressed.
But Thornton assured that officers would be keeping a close eye on activity at all known backyard clubs and, as he always does,the sheriff encouraged residents to keep providing information that might lead to further operations such as the one that occurred Saturday night.
Blackman was placed under a $35,000 bond for the charges leveled against him. Boone was given a $15,000 bond but made bond later that evening. Phillips was cited on scene and released.
Peter Rabbits, Smith said, has been open for over a decade.