A Jersey Shore town will pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a club owner who claimed municipal officials purposely tried to ruin his business because they didn't want black performers playing at the venue.

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The settlement was announced Tuesday by lawyers for Stephen D'Onofrio, who owned The Sawmill Cafe in Seaside Park before selling it in 2009. Besides the borough, the lawsuit also named several high-ranking town officials, police officers and others as defendants.

Borough Mayor Robert Matthies confirmed the settlement, saying the town decided it was in "the best interests" of all the defendants. As part of the deal, no defendants admitted doing anything improper.

D'Onofrio claimed the defendants purposely took steps to interfere with his business operations. Town officials disputed the allegations, saying D'Onofrio invited scrutiny by his own actions.


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