West Bottoms businesses ready for fresh start as former Rockstar Burgers owner faces federal, state charges

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A federal indictment Wednesday accuses the former owner or Rockstar Burgers, Brian Smith, in being part of a drug ring. But what happens now? FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt looked into his other court cases, and the future of the West Bottoms.

The burger restaurant is closed for good, but federal prosecutors say there was more business than burgers going on inside. Smith and seventeen others are included in the indictment.

He’s charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 Grams of methamphetamine and one kilogram of heroin, conspiracy to commit money laundering and possessing, carrying, or using a firearm while drug trafficking.

Smith is in federal custody and awaiting a court date. If convicted, he faces a minimum of five years in jail up to life in prison.

Neighbors in the West Bottoms say they can finally relax. Christopher Ciesiel owns Campground, a restaurant across the street.

“Just knowing what’s going on behind those doors and then actually seeing it on social media was pretty horrifying,” Ciesiel said. “We’re hoping that the news that we got is going to be just the start of a revitalization, if you will, of this neighborhood.”

Smith is already charged in two other cases awaiting prosecution. One in Jackson county for animal abuse and bestiality. Court documents claim the victim was Smith’s dog. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office says they will communicate with federal prosecutors on coordinating the cases.

He was also charged in Platte County in December 2019 with domestic assault and armed criminal action for allegedly beating up his ex-girlfriend.

Platte County prosecutors said in November, Smith showed up where his ex-girlfriend was living in Parkville, and while she was sleeping, he allegedly burst through her locked bedroom door and began beating her with a handgun.

Eric Zahnd, the Platte County prosecuting attorney, says his case will go forward when they can.

“That’s a very serious charge. We allege not only did he hit her, but he hit her with a weapon, a handgun. Again, he is innocent until proven guilty, but they’re very serious charges,” Zahnd said.

He says the federal prosecutor handling the case used to work with him, and they’ve already started planning on how they will schedule their separate cases.

“We often have cases that we handle together, and often have defendants in common,” Zahnd said.

Back at smith’s loft Thursday, undercover officers and a dog searched for new evidence. Ciesiel says he’s seen the last few days as a fresh start for the neighborhood.

“What was going on there was not right, and we were pretty much going to stop at nothing to see it go away, and I feel like we kind of achieved that yesterday, so it feels good,” Ciesiel said.

The old Rockstar Burgers space is becoming a bookstore and coffee shop called the Looking Glass. The owner says he still plans to open despite Smith’s legal issues and is renovating the space. There is no confirmed opening date.

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