The owner of Club Tropicana offered two policemen $200, so they wouldn’t prosecute an employee for operating his business beyond the 8 p.m. shut down period.
Instead of setting the employee free, police arrested Dennis Palomino for bribery.
Just hours before, Palomino’s manager, Michael Woodside, had offered the same officers $40 when they came to shut down the club on the Prince George Wharf around 8:18 p.m. on July 5, the court heard.
Both men pleaded guilty to bribery charges when they appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes.
During his plea in mitigation, attorney Roger Gomez Jr. asked the court to consider imposing a conditional discharge.
According to Gomez, police entrapped Palomino into offering the bribe when he went to the Central Police Station to present his business license.
Gomez claimed that the officers told Palomino that they were offended that Woodside had only offered them $20 each.
When Palomino offered $200, they accepted. But they arrested him once he produced the money.
Gomez said if entrapment were a defense in Bahamian law, he would have advised Palomino to plead not guilty.
Gomez said that conviction would hurt Palomino’s chances of renewing the liquor licenses for the five businesses that he operated under the Tropicana brand.
Gomez noted that both men did not waste the court’s time by going to trial and had no prior convictions.
However, Forbes said that bribery was “unacceptable”.
Although not imposing the maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and/or two years in prison, Forbes fined both men.
He imposed a $500 fine on Woodside and a $1,000 fine on Palomino.
Both men paid the penalties to avoid spending six months and eight months in prison, respectively.
Meanwhile, Woodside denied the charge of violating the emergency powers by keeping the club open past 8 p.m.
Gomez said that the last customer had left at 7:30 p.m. However, Woodside remained inside to clean up and to balance the till.
He said that the officers approached Woodside on the outside.