After news broke yesterday that Foundation Nightclub had been raided and its liquor license suspended, information, opinions, and accounts began flooding the web and social media.
Dance Music Northwest has spent the last 24 hours sifting through reports, monitoring social media, communicating with sources throughout government and nightlife, and formally requesting information.
Here is everything we know so far.
First, just WTF is going on over there at Foundation?
From the information provided by sources, the SPD, and the WSLCB, the facts currently appear to go something like this.
In March 2018 agents from the SPD and Homeland Security (HSI) began an undercover investigation inside the club. The club was chosen based on reports of drug trafficking, but the actions were also part of a larger city-wide investigation around “ongoing concerns about overdoses and sexual assaults associated with drugs like GHB.”
Authorities learned of numerous illegal and nefarious activities inside the club throughout their investigation. Multiple “in-house” drug dealers were allowed into the venue and VIP zones without security checks; they were provided “employee uniform apparel” and featured in promotional materials; they also supplied club employees, some of which were re-selling the drugs to club patrons.
In one particularly disturbing report, a dealer with access to Foundation, who claimed to have close ties to “the owner,” was described by undercover officers as detailing “how much GHB to use to dose women, depending on their weight.”
Based on these findings, SPD’s narcotics unit and HSI were granted a warrant to raid the club on Wednesday, August 8th, just before 11:00pm, according to a Foundation employee. Three employee arrests were made inside the club. Officers also raided “several” other locations, making 8-9 additional arrests and seizing, in total:
“829 grams of cocaine, over 1,000 grams of MDMA, 400 ecstasy pills, 800 Xanax pills, 190 grams of ketamine, 13 grams of DMT, 176 grams of GHB, 1200 Molly capsules, and additional prescription drugs, as well as two handguns and more than $60,000 in cash.”
The reports make multiple claims that “management” were aware of drug-dealing activity, though stop short of further details. According to the WSLCB, “all of the controlled buys occurred on the licensed premises and were conducted by employees or drug dealers known to employees who allowed the activity.”
Who are “management,” what did they know, and when did they know it?
This is the #1 open question. Neither SPD nor WSLCB specify in their reports who counts as “management.” One of the Foundation staff members arrested (and subsequently released this morning, allegedly uncharged) claims “I am proudly a part of the mgmt[sic] team at Foundation and did not know this was happening.”
DMNW has been able to confirm this staff member is a lead bottle server at the club. While this is a leadership position and can be considered management, it does raise questions about what Foundation staff and the SPD consider “management,” and how that might differ from the public’s perception.
It is also unclear which details of the report this awareness constitutes. We have reached out to the SPD for clarity on this point, and have not yet heard back.
OK, but regardless, a club-sanctioned dealer was teaching people how to date-rape women.
It is the position of this organization that any actions constituting sexual assault or rape, or knowingly facilitating sexual assault or rape, are morally reprehensible and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and community, full stop.
This includes the dealer SPD references, his suppliers, and anyone who explicitly knew he was facilitating rape and sexual assault (or were themselves facilitating rape or sexual assault) within the club or elsewhere.
We are not currently aware which, if any, specific club staff knew of this particular and egregious activity. This question will be critical in the coming days, and DMNW is investigating.
Why was Homeland Security involved?
Also an open question. A city employee working with police and the court system, who wished to remain anonymous and spoke to us via third party, claims that because HSI is involved, some form of federal charges are possible. He speculates that the larger ring of distributors and traffickers, of which the Foundation-associated dealers were a part, may have tried to move narcotics across state lines.
This possibility is unsubstantiated. The SPD report states, “Detectives continue to investigate the case and are actively searching for additional suspects.” Whether this means other music venues, moving up the chain of drug distribution, other, or both is unclear.
What does Foundation say about all this?
Foundation’s only public comment thus far was released shortly before the SPD report, and a few hours before the WSLCB press release. At the time, the club publicly confirmed the license suspension (at the time, only confirmed by a poster on their door), and assured paid patrons ticket issues were going to be resolved.
Foundation, on Friday, also released a statement via their law firm, Robert Flennaugh II, PLLC, responding to the allegations within the SPD report.
“Foundation Nightclub is dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming place for all to enjoy the music we love. Since opening, we have always strived to provide the best safety and security measures for our patrons and have made a concerted effort to follow all laws and regulations. Frankly, many of the government’s allegations are absolutely false. We will prove this. Nevertheless, the ownership takes seriously the allegations reported in the media. Foundation Nightclub has already begun corrective actions. It will cooperate with authorities in the investigation and remains dedicated to providing a safe and secure place for all.”
Ian Jurgensen (Owner) nor Pat Maher (General Manager) have also not provided public comment on social media, but James Zachodni (a partner involved in Foundation’s inception) did release the following statement on Facebook:
Will Foundation shut down permanently?
The definitive answer is: maybe. Given the allegations, real questions arise about the venue finding affordable insurance, legal representation, and suppliers in the future. That said, a suspended liquor license is not necessarily a death sentence for a venue. An appeals process is available, and if venues can demonstrate “sufficient compliance” following their suspension, often they will be restored.
How will USC Events likely be affected?
The key question here is around ownership. Foundation Nightclub is registered as a free-standing LLC, meaning only assets belonging to the club are available to legal action against it. Since both Foundation and USC are privately-held companies, public information about their financial structures is limited.
It is easy to assume that USC resources were used (at least in part) to fund the club’s launch, but without public record this can’t be confirmed. If they did, those resources could be charged against in court, or liquidated as part of a plea, but only insofar as they were converted to Foundation assets.
The smart money says that USC will survive, so long as the SPD investigation reveals no direct connections between them and the drug network Foundation became involved with.
So, what’s next?
For us, we will continue to investigate, and share our findings with our readers. We believe now is also a good time to revisit the incredible importance of harm reduction, consent, and accountability.
Even if it is revealed the club’s ownership were fully unaware of the activities described above, the allegations against their staff reveal a pattern of assault and unsafe drug use occurring within their walls. This fact must be addressed, and we encourage the venue’s ownership to find a legally-permissible way to communicate with the many people whose lives are touched by these events.
The community also must decide how to process this information, and how to reckon with the allegations. It is imperative we get this right, and ensure positive outcomes both for the victims and for the music scene we support. This case continues to reveal its complexity, and the investigation remains open.
We encourage both unwavering support for victims and anyone affected, and discretion in choosing what additional information to believe, until due process runs its course.
If you have any information, please email us. This article has been updated.