South Side's sports bar, DA reach agreement

Levelz likely to sell or lease

The owners of a South Side bar that has come under scrutiny for the number of police calls it attracts will likely sell or lease the location as a result of a consent agreement with the Allegheny County district attorney's office, according to the bar's attorney.

Common Pleas Judge Alan Hertzberg signed off on a consent agreement Friday between the owners of Levelz Sports Lounge and the DA's office. The agreement gave the owners the option to keep their Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board license and open a new bar elsewhere or transfer it to a third party approved in advance by the DA's office.

Under the agreement, owners Mark Heuer, Joseph Molinaro, Dino Pietrantoni and Drew Ziccardi cannot open another bar in the same spot until Aug. 2, 2014.

"The plan right now is either to lease it or sell it," said Charles Caputo, the attorney representing the bar's owners.

Levelz has been closed since Aug. 2, when the DA's office obtained an emergency order to shut it down following a stabbing that left a man critically wounded. In its request for that order, the DA's office documented 33 separate police calls to Levelz from January 2011 through July 2013. Those calls resulted in charges ranging from public drunkenness, gambling and drug possession to sexual assaults and an attempted homicide.

The linchpin came on July 27, when officers from the city's Zone 3 station in Allentown and homicide detectives were called to the bar for a report that a man had been wounded in a stabbing and witnesses reported seeing the man hold his entrails. Police arrested a man named Luis M. Carde Freiria, 41, of the South Side Flats, in connection with that stabbing. He faces a Sept. 26 preliminary hearing.

Mr. Caputo said the owners of Levelz had been in discussions with the DA's office since the stabbing. He said they chose to enter the agreement in part so they could put the stress of the ordeal behind them and in part so they could attempt to bring in some revenue to help pay their bills by selling or leasing the space.

Allegheny County property records show that the owners purchased the building at 1825 E. Carson St. for $600,000 in October of 2010.

"One of the most important factors was the economic consequences," Mr. Caputo said. "They have a mortgage. They own the property. They have monthly expenses."

City Councilman Bruce Kraus, who has long been critical of the bar and who along with 36 nearby business owners signed complaint letters about Levelz, welcomed news of the consent agreement and thanked the district attorney's office for addressing issues surrounding the establishment.

"I think it's a win," he said. "I think that finally the message is loud and clear that we're not prohibitionists and we're not looking to stifle business, but we're also not looking to turn a blind eye to irresponsible and illegal operations."

Liz Navratil:, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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