The Annotated Gospel According to Regas Christou
Anyone who knows Denver’s foul-mouthed, hyper-educated, perennially controversial nightclub king knows that he’s a storyteller. But whether you think he’s as fabulous as he claims to be—or merely a very entertaining fabulist—the one thing everyone can agree on is that the guy just can’t seem to keep his mouth shut.
Regas book V
How do you think you could fight with the police for 20 years and still be in business? If you’re clean! I’m legal! I’m clean!
Not surprisingly, the police department wasn’t too happy with Christou after the Truax testimony. He says that the police were already on his back, dating back to another incident: In the early 1990s, he says, his security team threw an intoxicated man out of the Deadbeat Club. On the way out the door, the man told Christou that he was a close relative of future police chief Tom Sanchez, and that he would “shut my ass down.” In August 1997, liquor enforcement investigators from the Colorado Department of Revenue showed up at the Deadbeat and told him that the Deadbeat’s hotel and restaurant license required that 25 percent of the bar’s revenues come from food sales. The Deadbeat was below that—somewhere around 24 percent, depending on who you ask. The revenue department shut down the bar for 18 days, prompting a scathing column from Christou’s friend Bill Husted at the Denver Post, about how few bars met the standard: “It’s an antiquated law that should be struck from the books—or ignored the way it is in every bar in LoDo. Get offa [sic] Christou’s back or get on the back of every club owner in town.”
Five months after the Truax court ruling, then-police captain Gerald Whitman sent a memo to Sanchez, which told the chief that off-duty officers would be prohibited from working at any clubs owned by the Christou family. Christou hired private security, and for almost a decade, his clubs avoided any headline-grabbing violence.
Then came New Year’s Eve 2007. The Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin threw a birthday party for himself at the Christou-owned Shelter, and several Broncos players, including Brandon Marshall and Darrent Williams, were among the guests. At some point during the evening, the group exchanged words with several men who turned out to be local members of the Crips street gang. At 2 a.m., eight blocks away from the club, an SUV pulled alongside the stretch Hummer carrying Williams and several others and sprayed it with bullets. The 24-year-old Williams was shot in the neck and pronounced dead at the hospital. In the months that followed, the police flailed, unable to find a suspect, let alone arrest one. With no one to blame for the tragedy, the focus—of the media, and of public opinion—began to zero in on Regas Christou.