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Owners of 717 Social Club in Columbia charged with serving alcohol without a license

LANCASTER COUNTY — The owners of a Columbia social club have been charged with two counts each of selling alcohol without a license after a State Police B...
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LANCASTER COUNTY — The owners of a Columbia social club have been charged with two counts each of selling alcohol without a license after a State Police Bureau of Liquor Control investigation.

Bruce L. Murray, 43, and Jane Marcie Murray, 48, both of the 4400 block of Fairview Road, were charged Monday after police investigated a complaint about the 717 Social Club on the 400 block of 2nd Street. The anonymous caller alleged that the club, owned by the Murrays, was acting as a speakeasy, police say.

The 717 Social Club does not have a license to serve liquor, police say.

On February 14, an undercover officer entered the club at about 1:40 p.m., spoke to the bartender, and signed in as a guest, according to the criminal complaint. The officer ordered and was served a 12-ounce glass of beer and a shot of whiskey and paid for both items, police say. The bartender allegedly told the officer the glass of beer cost $2 and the shot was $3, according to police.

The undercover officer returned to the club at 5 p.m. on Feb. 23, police say, and spoke to the same bartender, inquiring about how to join the club. The officer filled out a membership application and paid the $35 membership fee, the complaint states. The bartender gave the officer a copy of the club’s bylaws.

During the second visit, police say, the officer was served another 12-ounce can of beer and purchased a second beer for another patron, paying for both items.

The officer returned to the club a third time on March 5, picked up a membership card and key to the club, and was served two 12-ounce cans of beer.

Police determined that the club was owned by Bruce L. Murray, who was identified as the club’s president. Jane Murray was identified as the club’s secretary, according to police.

Officers served a search warrant on the club on March 12, recovering a “large volume” of beer and liquor, along with bank records, office records, beer coolers, money, video slot machines, and a cash register.

The items recovered included:

  • 1,288 12-ounce cans of beer
  • Eight 16-ounce cans of beer
  • 10 kegs of beer
  • Two 5-liter bottles of liquor
  • 48 1.75-liter bottles of liquor
  • Five 1.5-liter bottles of liquor
  • Nine 1-liter bottles of liquor
  • 35 750ml bottles of liquor

The bartender, Samantha Smith, told police she was paid every two weeks by the club’s board. Bruce Murray served as president of the board, the bartender said, and Jane Murray signed the checks.

When interviewed by police on March 12, Jane Murray allegedly identified herself and her husband, Bruce Murray, as the club’s owners, police say. She allegedly admitted the club does not have a liquor license, and that she once owned a bar, but sold the liquor license before opening the 717 Social Club, police say.

The 717 Social Club attempted to get permission from the Columbia borough council to obtain a liquor license for the club, Jane Murray said, but the council denied their petition, police say.