A state judge has ordered the owner of an adult-oriented business in Brookhaven jailed for 180 days and imposed $420,000 in fines for a failure to close after violating a ban on sex-toy sales.

DeKalb Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott issued his ruling May 20 against Stardust at 3007 Buford Highway and its owner, Michael Morrison. He also directed the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office to enforce his closure order, padlocking the building if necessary.

The Stardust adult store on Buford Highway as seen in a Google Earth image. (File)

“This is now the fourth time that the Court has found Morrison’s operation of Stardust to be illegal,” Scott wrote in his order.

“On April 10, 11, and 12, 2019, the store had over 200 sexual devices on display—more than double the threshold that violates the Injunction Order. That is not a counting error—it is willful contempt of the Injunction Order,” Scott wrote in his order.

The judge sentenced Morrison to 20 days for each of the nine violations committed on those days, totaling 180 days. Scott imposed additional penalties of $210,000 each for Stardust and Michael Morrison. That brings the total of court awards to the city to more than $863,000.

Cary Wiggins, an attorney for Morrison, declined to comment.

The city and Stardust have been in litigation since 2014 in state and federal court. In February 2019, the Georgia Court of Appeals held Morrison in contempt for violating a lower court’s closure ruling.

District 4 City Council member Joe Gebbia said in a press release that this was Brookhaven’s first test in protecting its ordinances. District 4 includes the Buford Highway corridor where Stardust is located.

“A lot was riding on the outcome of this challenge because of the potential negative impact it would have on the future redevelopment of the Buford Highway Corridor hangs in the balance,” Gebbia said.  “We can’t expect quality, community-focused redevelopment around adult-oriented business. It took seven years but with this victory justice has been duly served and the future of Buford Highway looks even brighter.”

Another business owned by Morrison, Tokyo Valentino in Sandy Springs, also was the subject of recent legal scrutiny. Shortly after the store’s opening in December 2019, the city classified it as an illegal adult bookstore because of the percentage of sexually oriented materials it displayed and its proximity to residential properties. After altering its selection, the city said the business came into compliance and could continue operations.

Morrison also is in a long-running legal battle with the city of Atlanta over a Tokyo Valentino location on Cheshire Bridge Road.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.