200 pounds of marijuana seized at Springfield strip club party, police say

Peter Morgan/Associated Press/File

Police officers busted a “marijuana vendor party” in Springfield on Friday night and seized 200 pounds of marijuana, police said.

Springfield police received a tip that led them to the third floor of a building housing the Mardi Gras strip club, where an event was underway and open to the public. Undercover detectives saw 30 to 40 vendors offering marijuana to more than 150 potential customers, police said.

The detectives allegedly purchased marijuana from two vendors, who were later arrested.

Officers also seized $3,865 in cash at the event.

Twenty-four-year-old Alissa Nowak of Bellingham and 35-year-old Hemant Shani of Springfield will be charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana, police said. The pair are not licensed to sell marijuana by the Cannabis Control Commission, police said.


Mayor Domenic J. Sarno ordered public health, safety, and entertainment license hearings for Mardi Gras following the raid, Springfield police said.

“The Mardi Gras establishment will face all appropriate sanctions, all the way up to revocation of any and all licenses,” the mayor said in a statement.

Attorney Daniel D. Kelly, who represents Mardi Gras Entertainment, Inc. and club owner Anthony L. Santaniello, said it’s unfair to tie the event to the strip club. He said there are other businesses located in the building and the event was held in an empty warehouse space above the club.

“[The owners] knew nothing about the event,” he said. “They’re as shocked as the rest of the tenants.”

Kelly said the Mardi Gras rents only the bottom two floors of 395 Dwight St. from BSC Realty. Secretary of state records show BSC Realty is operated by James Santaniello, whom Kelly identified as Anthony L. Santaniello’s brother.

Allison Hagan can be reached at allison.hagan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @allisonhxgan.