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Thirsty Sports Bar

Thirsty's Sports Bar at 317 S. 11th St. has been closed and will be replaced by Variations.

The owner of Thirsty Sports Bar and an employee face felony charges for cocaine, marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms discovered during an investigation into a tip that drugs were being sold from the downtown bar.

Prosecutors charged owner Jason Von Kaenel, 40, and Lea Reedy, 41, in May, a little more than a week after investigators with the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant on the home they share near 40th Street and Prescott Avenue, according to court records.

Reedy is set to return to court later this month, and Von Kaenel in July. Both were allowed out on pretrial release without bail.

If convicted, the cocaine charge could get them three to 50 years in prison, and the marijuana and mushroom charges up to 20 years more apiece.

In an affidavit, Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Schwarz said investigators conducted an undercover surveillance detail at the bar at 317 S. 11th St. after getting an anonymous report March 28 alleging cocaine, meth and MDMA were being sold there.

When investigators went to the bar the next night for an hour and a half, he said, they saw several patrons go to the private second-floor area and return rubbing their noses, and a female bartender and male patron go in a restroom together and come out rubbing their noses.

When the undercover officers returned April 6, another bartender was working, and they didn't see anything suspicious, Schwarz said.

He said they returned again on May 10, and ended up asking to conduct a tavern compliance check after they saw patrons entering an "employees only" storage room and at least one man come out sniffing.

Schwarz said Reedy refused to cooperate and left out a back door.

He said Von Kaenel denied being involved in the use or sale of drugs there and agreed to a search. Schwarz said investigators found a 1-inch-by-1-inch plastic bag of suspected cocaine under a freezer in the storage room and a purse, believed to be Reedy's, with drug paraphernalia and residue inside.

On May 11, Lincoln police took a report from a neighbor of Von Kaenel and Reedy's who said she found a green bag tossed in her backyard. Schwarz said police found 136 grams of marijuana, 21 grams of cocaine and 105 grams of mushrooms inside, along with drug paraphernalia, a blank check and Costco membership he said belonged to Von Kaenel and Reedy.

On Tuesday, Von Kaenel's attorney, Carlos Monzón, said in an email that once Von Kaenel was apprised of illegal activities inside his bar, "he fired employees and denied entry to patrons whom he believed were conducting illegal activities.

"Regretfully, as in any other business, at times the owner has to delegate upon employees," he said. "Mr. Van Kaenel has learned that some of those employees allowed access to individuals that conducted activities not endorsed nor allowed by Mr. Van Kaenel."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.

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