Chapel gets no love from City Council

A wedding chapel accused of bullying its competitors to the point of assault had its license yanked Monday by the Las Vegas City Council.

In a unanimous vote, council members declared the Las Vegas Garden of Love chapel a public nuisance and upheld a decision by city staff not to renew the chapel’s business license.

The council could hear more about the wedding industry, however, because people on both sides of the case renewed calls for tighter regulation.

Chapel owner Cheryl Luell sobbed as she left the city council chambers with her husband, Craig, her attorney, Stephen Stein, and others.

“I didn’t do anything wrong!” she protested.

Stein said he didn’t know whether his client would appeal the council’s decision to district court.

“Ask me tomorrow,” he said as he escorted the Luells out of the building. “Now is not the time.”

The vote wrapped up two days of sprawling testimony accusing the Luells and their employees of harassing, intimidating and attacking employees of competing chapels in an effort to control the local wedding industry.

“This is not a garden of love. This is a garden of shame,” city attorney Brad Jerbic said.

In the chapel’s defense, Stein argued that those making the allegations weren’t credible, and that the entire case had been cooked up by other chapels because they couldn’t compete with the Garden of Love.

In the end, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese picked a few incidents that rose above the level of “he said, she said” and used those to support removing the chapel’s license.

“I think that Mrs. Luell created a nuisance in the operation of her business by instructing her handbillers … to engage in aggressive tactics against her competitors,” he said.

Lt. George Glasper, who works at the Regional Justice Center, told the council that about 90 percent of the complaints he receives about handbillers at the wedding bureau concern Garden of Love employees.

The Luells were also cited by the Nevada Transportation Services Commission for violating the rules governing limousine service.

Reese also noted two fights that were documented in court files — one in which a Garden of Love employee was convicted of battery for kicking a rival chapel worker in the head, and another in which Craig Luell and two others allegedly tussled at the courthouse with a competitor.

“This is all Garden of Love,” Jerbic said. “Beating people, threatening people, using tactics no other chapel uses. You don’t hear chapel vs. chapel. It’s chapel vs. Garden of Love.”

Stein said the structure of the industry, not his clients, are to blame, and said the complaints were “led by two or three major competitors who wish to put them out of business.”

“These problems began in this industry way before the Luells were present,” he said. “The problems are with the handbillers.

“What need be done is that you do away with the handbilling, and then you won’t have a problem.”

Many chapels employ people who wait outside the marriage bureau for couples who’ve just received their licenses, hoping to win the business of as many brides and grooms as possible.

Since the council upheld the denial of the Luells’ license, they cannot legally conduct business at their chapel, said Jim DiFiore, manager of the city’s business services division.

If they appeal, a judge could allow them to reopen while the case proceeds.

“We’ve been fighting this battle for five years,” said Cliff Evarts, owner of the Vegas Wedding Chapel and one of the Luells’ most dedicated critics.

Evarts was the subject of possibly the most bizarre accusation in the hearing — that he gave Tory Manvilla, Cheryl Luell’s uncle, a hotel room, $500 and crack cocaine so that Manvilla would seek a restraining order against Luell.

Manvilla did file a report with Las Vegas police alleging that his niece threatened him, but the case was closed because of insufficient evidence.

Evarts said he once met with Manvilla, gave him a ride to Child Protective Services and arranged a hotel room for him because he was moved by Manvilla’s hard-luck story.

But he dismissed the other two claims, especially the one involving drugs, which drew laughter from the audience when Manvilla said it.

While Evarts agreed with Stein that handbilling needs to be reformed, he said it wasn’t the root of the problem.

“There was handbilling long before the Garden of Love arrived,” he said. “But there were never any serious issues like there are now.”

Contact reporter Alan Choate at or (702) 229-6435.

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like