WESTBROOK — Police Chief William Baker fired back Thursday at the lawyer who accused the city of “childish behavior” for its oversight of a strip club owned by his client.

Baker said in a press release that he finds it “rather silly” that Thomas Hallett contends police are being over-vigilant in monitoring activities at Dreamers Cabaret.

“It’s our job to be vigilant in the presence of people with (criminal) histories,” Baker said.

He was referring to a group of people whom police found at 1 a.m. Sunday in the club that the city shut down in September for code violations. Police found the group during a routine check of commercial buildings near the Warren Avenue club, owned by Larry Ferrante.

Police said they found the club’s lights on and women in clothes suitable for entertainment serving coffee to a half-dozen men, with music booming and disco lights flashing.

Baker said the group included Dr. John Perry, a podiatrist from Cumberland who was arrested on a cocaine charge last month. He is the subject of a federal drug investigation, according to records in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Business documents pertaining to Dreamers Cabaret were found in Perry’s car when he was arrested Nov. 17, court records show.

Also at the club was John Durfee of Alfred, a key witness in the trial of Jason Twardus, who was convicted in October of murdering Kelly Gorham in 2007. Part of Twardus’ defense was that Durfee, Gorham’s landlord, was a logical suspect in the murder.

Durfee, 66, has a criminal history that includes drug possession, eluding an officer, engaging a prostitute, attempted extortion and criminal threatening. This fall, after Twardus’ trial, he was again charged with eluding an officer.

Nathan Allen, 26, of Limerick was stopped as he drove away from the club. He has been convicted of disorderly conduct and domestic violence, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.

Adam Goodwin of Biddeford had an assault conviction in 2008 and criminal mischief convictions in 2006 and 2002, state records show.

The only person who was charged by police early Sunday was Lacresha Edgerly of Boston, who was arrested on a warrant charging her with negotiating a worthless instrument.

Goodwin, who told police that he was in charge of the property, called Hallett after the officers entered.

After talking to the attorney, Goodwin told the officers that the half-dozen men were plumbers, working to make changes to the building, and the women were bringing them coffee.

On Thursday, Ken Beaulieu, who described himself as the head contractor for the renovations, led reporters on tours of the building. Some framework was up for stairways on the first floor, and drywall had been installed for restrooms upstairs in the converted warehouse.

A table saw was set up next to a bar, and sawdust littered the concrete floor. Several dancing stages, blue velvet chairs and other furniture had been pushed to the side.

Beaulieu, who was at the building early Sunday when police arrived, said he is supervising the work to bring the building up to code so the club can reopen. He described Goodwin as a subcontractor and said he doesn’t know Perry, the podiatrist.

Beaulieu said that since the incident at 1 a.m. Sunday, he has been stopping work at 6 p.m., on Ferrante’s orders. He said he is having a hard time making progress because the wives and girlfriends of the five or six subcontractors object to their returning to the club.

“They are fighting with their wives,” Beaulieu said.

Ferrante, who described Perry as “a friend of a friend,” said he expects to reopen the club in the next two to three weeks.

Hallett said that as far as he knows, the men in the building early Sunday were all workers. Asked why Perry was there, he said, “Some say surgeons are glorified carpenters.”

Hallett said the city will go to any length to keep the club closed, but declined further comment.

“I am sorry. I am not going down this road. This is the theater of the absurd,” he said.

In his statement, the police chief defended his department’s actions as deliberate, professional and even-handed. “The people of Westbrook expect nothing less from us,” Baker said.

After Sunday’s incident, the city’s fire inspector sent a reminder to Ferrante that the building may not be used for public or private purposes until it complies with codes.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said Thursday that the city will continue to send its regular police patrols to the Warren Avenue area.

The club opened with nude dancing on Sept. 17 and was shut down the next day. It has not reopened. Ferrante has sued the city. He appealed the revocation of his occupancy permit, but lost last week before Westbrook’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

The city passed an ordinance last month banning full nudity and alcohol in strip clubs, and setting a closing time of 1 a.m.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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