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Texas officials investigating nightclub linked to Cowboys crash

By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating a nightclub where Dallas Cowboys players may have been drinking before a one-vehicle crash in which player Jerry Brown Jr. died early Saturday morning, a commission official said Monday.

Commission officials would not identify the club, but a club called Privae Dallas issued a statement saying it was cooperating with the commission and with police as they investigate.

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent, 24, has been charged with intoxication manslaughter in the crash in the Dallas suburb of Irving that killed Brown, 25, a practice squad linebacker. A second-degree felony, intoxication manslaughter is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000 in Texas.

"In regard to the auto accident that took the life of Dallas Cowboy Jerry Brown, we are saddened by the events of the weekend," the private club said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to Mr. Brown's family and friends, and the entire Cowboys organization."

Privae Dallas often caters to celebrities, human resources manager Joe Beamer said in the statement.

Brent was released on $500,000 bail from the Irving jail on Sunday. Brent had been driving a 2007 Mercedes sedan and Brown was in the passenger seat, police said. Brown was pronounced dead a short while later at a Dallas hospital.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said the agency routinely investigates whenever a death occurs and alcohol may be a contributing factor.

"We will be trying to determine whether alcohol was sold to an intoxicated person," Beck said.

The investigation could take months, she said.

The penalty for violation of an alcohol permit license could be loss of the license, she said.

A police affidavit stated that an officer could smell alcohol on Mr. Brent's breath and that "he had lost his mental and physical faculties to operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway due to his intoxication level."

Mr. Brent refused a blood sobriety test but he was required to take a test after Mr. Brown died.

Brent had a drunken driving arrest in 2009, when he played football for the University of Illinois.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Cynthia Osterman)

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