Just a week after AmVets manager Mike Might pleaded guilty in Missoula District Court to operating gaming machines without a license, the national service organization is announcing that it is revoking the Ryman Street bar’s charter.
“It will no longer be able to operate under the AmVets brand,” says AmVets national communication director Jay Agg. “It’s definitely warranted, given the situation, given that Mr. Might has pleaded guilty to a number of charges.”
Several calls to Might’s Missoula business, Crystal Imports, went unanswered Monday. But according to charging documents, Might, who has managed AmVets for decades, told state gaming officials that he simply put off renewing his licenses. "He said that it was really stupid on his part," the records state, "but between health problems and running two businesses it just didn't get done."
Missoula County Prosecutor Fred Van Valkenburg alleged in June that Might illegally operated several video gaming machines for nearly 20 months. Might’s guilty plea and the subsequent loss of AmVets charter marks the latest challenge for the embattled underground bar, which was shut down by the Missoula City-County Health Department in September for an array of critical violations. Those violations included sewage backup behind the bar’s walk-in refrigerator, rotten plumbing and a "large amount of mold growth," the health department report states.
In January, a woman confined to a wheelchair alleged that Might and his staff discriminated against her based on her disability. Might disputed the allegation in an interview with the Independent, and claimed the charge was an attack fueled by the local gay community, which is, he said, unsatisfied with its tenuous claims to the downtown watering hole.
Prior to the most recent challenges, between 2001 and 2008, the Montana Department of Labor (DOL) filed four Workers' Compensation liens against the bar totaling approximately $13,000. The DOL files such liens when an employer is penalized for failing to provide workers' compensation coverage and doesn't pay the penalty.
It remains to be seen if Might can dig himself out of his most recent challenges. Sentencing on the gambling charges are set for the end of December. It is clear now that the AmVets national organization has pulled his charter that Might will no longer be able to operate under the tax exempt status that he has enjoyed for decades.
“That will likely impact his business,” Agg says.