The death of a man at the Broadwater Mansion in Upper Marlboro has led to a temporary halt on future parties at the property owned by former state senator Tommy Broadwater and is raising questions about oversight of for-profit house parties.
Kevin Sehinde Akinfeleye, 22, of Lanham was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at the mansion during a party July 31. Police said the apparent cause of death was drowning and no signs of foul play were apparent.
The incident at the party, at which off-duty uniformed Prince George's County police officers worked as security, has sparked an internal affairs investigation and a ban on off-duty county police working security at house parties.
The county Department of Environmental Resources threatened to shut down any future parties at the mansion unless Broadwater, who has owned the property since 1995, according to county records, files for permits to operate the home as a for-profit venue. Broadwater does not live at the property, according to property records.
Broadwater, who served as senator from 1974 until 1983, when he was convicted of food stamp fraud and spent four months in federal prison, said a $20-per-ticket event scheduled for Saturday night, the 8th annual Crab and Splash party, was canceled. Tickets for Broadwater Mansion parties are sold at DTLR, a Hanover-based shoe and clothing chain, but party organizers announced Thursday on Twitter that the event was postponed.
Brad Goshen, the assistant associate director for the property standards division of DER, said that if a home or property holds an event to which tickets are sold, the owner is required to obtain a use-and-occupancy permit. During the permit process, DER examines the property and its site plan and determines, among other factors, the maximum capacity for an event and safety measures.
“Basically, if it's open to the general public and a fee is charged, it's considered a commercial event for profit,” Goshen said.
The Broadwater Mansion property, located in the 4200 block of U.S. Route 301 — about four miles south of a Prince George's County police station and about two miles from the County Administration Building — is routinely rented out to groups who throw parties, but Goshen said Broadwater has never applied for such a permit. The mansion has hosted for-profit parties for at least two years, according to Internet searches, but Carol Terry, a spokeswoman for DER, said there is no provision that allows the agency to retroactively penalize property owners for “events that were held without the county's knowledge.”
“If it appears that another event is being planned, appropriate enforcement activities will be taken,” Terry said in a statement.
DER officials were unable to answer questions by press time regarding penalties for violations or whether there is a procedure for checking on house parties.
County Councilman Mel Franklin (D-Dist. 9) of Upper Marlboro, whose district includes the mansion, said for-profit house parties need to be better regulated.
“If house parties that sell tickets are required to get permits and they're not doing so, we need to crack down on them,” Franklin said. “If we don't enforce the laws on the books, it doesn't make any sense to have them on the books.”
Franklin said that permits are vital in ensuring that incidents like the July 31 drowning do not happen.
“One of the reasons for permitting in the first place is that it allows the enforcement agency to make sure that the commercial business getting the permit is actually putting in place the right safeguards to protect the safety of residents,” he said.