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Word of rave performance resulted in added police

Wednesday, January 03, 2001

By Jonathan D. Silver and Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Staff Writers

After being tipped off that a New Year's Eve rave concert would be held at the Iceoplex sports complex in Washington County, state police decided to keep an eye out for trouble.

"Drug activity has been known to occur when that type of thing is going on," Trooper Diana Grady of the Washington barracks explained yesterday.

Armed with their information, police did not set up any checkpoints or make any random stops near Exit 10 of Interstate 79 or along Southpointe Boulevard as Dec. 31 slipped into Jan 1.

Instead, a routine patrol made traffic stops near the Iceoplex and seized drugs or drug paraphernalia from 13 people, including six juveniles.

"They were making sure that the motorists out there were safe, that the highways were safe," Grady said.

No specifics were available about the arrests, but she said troopers had probable cause to make each traffic stop and more cause after that to search each vehicle or person.

"They would have to see something on that particular stop to substantiate searching them further," she said. "It wasn't like a random thing. They were legitimate traffic stops."

That contradicts what one of those stopped had to say. Kevin Syes of Cranberry said Monday that police stopped him because of a broken headlight and ended up finding a small amount of marijuana in his car. He claimed police were stopping vehicles going to the concert.

Grady said troopers would not have enough probable cause to stop and search a vehicle simply because it contained young people in the vicinity of a rave.

State police are awaiting laboratory results before filing any drug charges, which could include possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver and possession of a small amount of marijuana. Troopers seized what is believed to be cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and ecstasy.

Raves are typically all-night concerts with industrial music. Their locations are sometimes kept secret until the last minute, and they can harbor illicit drug use by teen-agers.

There were no problems reported at the rave, the first to be held at the Iceoplex or anywhere in Cecil.

"We had no problems in the building itself. [Patrolling] was basically done by state police. They wanted to patrol the area heavily," Cecil police Chief John Pushak said.

Pushak said he was told of the rave about three or four weeks ago by the Iceoplex's manager, who also notified state police.

"It was a heads-up call letting us know there would be a rave concert," Pushak said.

Usually when the Iceoplex sponsors events, the venue hires off-duty Cecil police for security. In this case, the rave was put on by a private group called Downlow Communications, which used its own security.

No one from Downlow could be reached yesterday, but the group still had information about the party on its Web site.

Featured acts at the rave, which ran from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. with lasers and multiple video screens, were Hubajube, Deadly Buda and Ben Kenobi.

The Iceoplex is owned by a company called Southpointe Rink Associates LP, whose general partner is BBSALP Investment Corp.

"My understanding is that the police were stopping cars coming into Southpointe," said Steven Lynch, BBSALP's secretary and Southpointe's attorney. "We had no problems at the facility. ... We operate a respectable business."

Lynch declined to say whether there would be future raves at the Iceoplex, where the Penguins practice.

Tom McMillan, the Penguins spokesman, noted that the team doesn't own or operate the Iceoplex.

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