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Party Palace : City Sues Owners, Tenants Over Frequent Revelries at Hilltop Mansion

TIMES STAFF WRITER

To Jerry Bolduc, the mansion he and his friends rent in the hills above Studio City is his castle--one primo party palace with a hot tub, five bedrooms, wall-to-wall king-size mattresses and a sand-filled volleyball pit by the pool.

To neighbors and the city attorney’s office, however, it is a public nuisance--where up to 1,000 people at a time paid admission to join in revels-for-hire that on at least one occasion were televised on MTV.

And so, it soon could be last call at the big house on Wrightwood Drive. The city attorney’s office filed suit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the estate’s owners and tenants, seeking an injunction that would say, in proper legal terms: “the party’s over.”

But Bolduc, who prefers to be called “Jerry Bo,” says he’s going to fight for his right to party.

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“Basically, we spend a lot of money here to lease a big house so we can have parties,” Bolduc said in a poolside interview, a portable phone at his side and sweeping view of the San Fernando Valley as his backdrop.

“Anybody who buys this kind of house is going to want to entertain,” he added. “I’m not a rock star. Things could be a whole lot worse.”

The city attorney’s suit alleges, however, that not all the parties were private affairs. At times, court documents say, the estate was used illegally for commercial purposes--so-called “underground” parties, advertised in flyers, at which revelers were charged $15 at the door, and liquor was sold without a license.

If the city prevails in court, property owner Paul Campbell, property manager Steven Powers and tenants Bolduc and Michael Dupre could all be fined or jailed or both.

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For the past four years, City Attorney James Hahn alleged, the $2.1-million blufftop mansion has been Party Central. Up to 1,000 people at a time flocked to these bashes and they weren’t the most well-behaved group, the lawsuit alleges.

Neighbors have lodged more than 100 complaints to police about “property damage, thefts, drug sales, sex acts occurring in public, excessive noise and severe traffic and parking congestion,” Deputy City Attorney Deborah Sanchez said.

“This was once a peaceful neighborhood,” Sanchez said. “There had to be an end because these tenants really crossed the line.”

Neighbors contend that their potted plants have been pilfered, their driveways blocked, and that passionate party-goers indulged themselves poolside, in plain view. Party trash has been left in the driveway, only to become infested with maggots, Sanchez added.

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And then there’s the noise, the complaint alleges--music and screaming at all hours of the night.

“We have had party-goers urinate in our bushes . . . and light up marijuana joints in our driveway,” neighbors Margot and Cliff Lachman said in a court declaration. “We have observed the sale of drugs directly in front of our home,” said Richard and Patti Kimball.

Court records indicate the mansion in the 3200 block of Wrightwood Drive is the most complained-about residence in the Los Angeles Police Department’s North Hollywood Division. In court documents, the LAPD’s Sgt. Charles Wampler called it “an ongoing and habitual police problem.”

On May 6, the suit says, undercover police officers attended a party at the house and bought drinks at three bars, issuing seven citations to the bartenders for selling alcohol without a license. Flyers for that event advertised it as the “Age of Aquarius & Classic Disco Party,” encouraging guests to wear tie-dye shirts, bell-bottom pants, platform shoes and other outfits typical of the 1960s and ‘70s. The city’s suit alleges that the underground parties at the mansion violate liquor laws and building and safety codes, and sometimes lead to violence, city attorney spokesman Mike Qualls said.

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Qualls added that Tuesday’s suit was the first abatement case he’d seen filed against a private residence for such underground parties, which are usually held in commercial buildings.

Bolduc said Tuesday that the allegations had been “trumped up” by overzealous police officers and spiteful neighbors. He said since he moved in eight months ago, he’s been made to pay for the sins of past tenants.

The house already was notorious when “gangsta” rapper Dr. Dre hosted a birthday bash there early this year that was carried on MTV, he said. Bolduc says party-pooper police towed about 100 cars that night.

He says his friends have been harassed by police. Once, he said, officers climbed up the bluff and hid in the bushes, frightening a guest who let out a blood-curdling shriek at the sight of armed men by the pool.

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“The problem isn’t me,” he said. “I’m just a working guy trying to get ahead and enjoy the summer in a nice place.”

And so what, he asks, if the city attorney doesn’t approve of some of his party themes, such as “Lingerie Night,” at which young women were admitted free if they wore lingerie.

“What’s against the law about having a lingerie party?” he asked. “I’ve been going to pajama parties since I was 8 years old.

“I’ll admit to living a bachelor lifestyle,” Bolduc said as he gave a tour of the 7,500-square-foot house. There was barely a stick of furniture downstairs: A couple of couches, draped with blankets. A pool table. Here and there, an empty beer can or a cheap art print.

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He headed up the sweeping staircase and toward the master bedroom.

“This is the jungle, the lair of Jerry Bo,” he said, proudly showing off a huge boudoir, complete with a spa tub that offers a view of from Universal Studios all the way to the Griffith Observatory. A lone goldfish inhabited the aquarium. Magazines featuring photos of unclothed women were strewn on one of the four king-size mattresses lined up against one wall. The beds, draped in the same camouflage parachute material that balloons from the ceiling, are surrounded by army-green beanbag chairs.

“It’s 35 feet long, including the bean bags,” Bolduc said.

“I’ll admit to having sex here,” he added. “I’m guilty of that. But we emphatically deny that we have broken any laws here.”

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