U.S. Open Organizers Forge Ahead

REGARDLESS OF how Circuit Court Judge Bruce H. Kushner rules in promoter Barry Behrman’s probation violation hearing on Sept. 8, the 28th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship will get underway as scheduled on Sept. 15. And Behrman’s longtime tournament staff is expecting another huge field, playing in front of another jam-packed crowd at the Chesapeake Convention Center in Chesapeake, Va.

“We’re operating with the same staff that ran last year’s event,” said Chris Adams, league director at Behrman’s Q-Master Billiards poolroom and point man for the 2004 event. “Barry is putting up the $52,000 in added money, and we’re collecting entry fees. Right now, registration is right on par with last year, and we anticipate having as many players [215] as we had in 2002.”

While the size of the field may be close to its 2002 level, the quality of the field figures to be as strong as 2002… if not stronger. With the United States Professional Poolplayers Association (UPA) granting waivers to its players, and the 2002 event having been void of last-minute payout surprises, a number of top pros have indicated that they would, indeed, play in the 2003 Open.

“I’m planning on playing,” said top-ranked Johnny Archer. “The UPA has said it’s okay to play, and it is the Open.”

Also scheduled to play is defending champion Ralf Souquet of Germany.

It is possible, however, that the U.S. Open may miss out on some top foreign players, as the World Pool-Billiard Association has informed its member federations that the event is not WPA-sanctioned.

Meanwhile, the 57-year-old Behrman sits in a Chesapeake correctional facility awaiting his fate. Jailed after a second probation violation, Behrman could be released after his Sept. 8 court date, or he could spend as much as six years behind bars. Behrman was convicted in 2002 of a pair of felonies stemming from illegal gambling parties at his Chesapeake home.

Until Sept. 8, Adams said he and his tournament crew will continue preparing for the 28th annual edition of America’s biggest pro tournament.

“All the contractors and vendors have been contacted,” said Adams. “The bleachers, big screen TVs, microphones, etc., have all been ordered. We’re right on schedule.”

Berhman To Run U.S. Open From Jail?

Behrman may have to conduct his business from behind bars.

Behrman may have to conduct his business from behind bars.

Unless he receives a sympathetic ruling from Circuit Court Judge Bruce H. Kushner, Barry Behrman could well be running the 28th Annual U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship from a jail cell.

Behrman, 57, owner of Q-Master Billiards and promoter of the long-running pro pool event, has been jailed in Chesapeake, Va., since July 18 for a violation of his probation. It is the second probation violation against Behrman since his 2002 felony convictions for holding illegal gaming parties at his Chesapeake home.

Despite his legal woes, Behrman has vowed that the U.S. Open, scheduled to run Sept. 15 – 21 at the Chesapeake Convention Center, will go on as planned. According to an article by The Virginian-Pilot reporter Cindy Clayton, Behrman has been calling his employees at the Virginia Beach poolroom with instructions on running the tournament in his stead.

“I don’t want to take away the pleasures of the people who come [to the U.S. Open] every year, just because of my mistake,” Behrman is quoted as saying.

Behrman will find out on Sept. 8 whether he will be released in time to run the tournament, or if he’ll spend more time behind bars. According to the Virginian-Pilot story, Behrman could be sentenced to at least six years in prison. Behrman’s first probation violation came in April, when he failed several drug tests and was convicted in Virginia Beach for not paying back taxes on his business.

How Behrman’s incarcaration will affect this year’s Open remains to be seen. The embattled promoter ran a successful U.S. Open in 2002, after suffering financial setbacks on both his 2001 Masters and 2001 U.S. Open, the latter of which coincided with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Behrman Nabbed In Raid

behrmanTroubles continue for U.S Open promoter Barry Behrman following the mid-tournament prize-fund reduction at the 2001 U.S. Open in September and slow payment of prize monies from the Masters tournament.

Behrman was one of 60 people cited in a raid on a home in Chesapeake, Va., Sunday by police and Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control agents following a four-month investigation.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the allegations stemming from the raid include illegal gambling, selling alcohol illegally, purchasing alcohol illegally, possession of marijuana, and possession of cocaine.

Becky Gettings, director of public affairs for the ABC confirmed that Behrman was among those cited and that “the charges are numerous and include some felony charges relating to the gambling and the amount of money invloved.”

Behrman was not detained and will face a grand jury on the charges, Gettings said. Behrman could not be reached for comment.