Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on November 21, 2013

Written by Becky Witt

Chairman Fogleman and Commissioners Smith and Jones in attendance. Chairman Fogleman announced that the 2733 Pennsylvania Avenue case on the docket would not go forward, due to inadequate documentation.

1:00pm cases

Licensees Mary Sanford & Theodore Sanford
Business Name 4600 Curtis Avenue, LLC
Trading As Thumpers
Address 4600 Curtis Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.01(a) “No licensee shall sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age or to any person with the knowledge that such person is purchasing or acquiring such beverage for consumption by any person under twenty-one (21) years of age” (Re: alcoholic beverage sold to minor on April 23, 2013)
Hearing notes

Licensee Mary Sanford was present and admitted the violation. Baltimore Police Detective L.C. Greenhill read from his April 23, 2013 report. During an underage alcohol investigation, police informant Dejuan Lamar Owens, who was under the age of 21 entered the bar, ordered, and was served a shot of tequila. Chairman Fogleman noted that when the Sanfords did not appear for their originally scheduled violation hearing, inspectors seized the liquor license for the establishment. See the original Booze News post for this address here. The Board then returned the license to the licensees, after they pre-paid the maximum fee for the violation.

Mary Sanford informed the board that the summons form was confusing; the licensees thought that the hearing would take place on another day. She added, “We pay all our taxes and our fees, for the Liquor Board. Don’t you think there should be justification for this? The form should be changed. I think that being fined again for this is foolish and uncalled for.”

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Curtis Bay
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Guilty of one 4.01(a) violation. The Board decided to waive the additional hearing fee for the second hearing, because they agreed that the summons form was confusing.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None.
Other reasons given for decision Admission of licensee.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Licensees Maurice Mufareh & Isa Mufareh
Business Name KMI Entertainment, Inc.
Trading As Apex Theatre
Address 110 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “AE” Adult Entertainment License
Reason for hearing As authorized by Article 2B, §12-203.1 and Baltimore City Code, Article 15, §1-3(a): Violation of Adult Entertainment Rule 13 “Every adult-entertainment business must frame its adult-entertainment license under glass and display it on the premises so that it is at all times conspicuous and easily read.” (Re: August 22, 2013, Liquor Board Inspector Brooks ordered the establishment closed for providing adult entertainment without a valid Adult Entertainment Permit, license invalid as of July 1, 2013.)
Hearing notes

The licensee admitted that the establishment did not have a valid Adult Entertainment license on premises and on display. Inspector Karen Brooks testified that, as part of a routine inspection on August 22, she noticed that the establishment was providing adult entertainment without a valid license. Chairman Fogleman confirmed with the licensee that the adult entertainment being provided was limited to adult movies.

The licensee testified that he has not had a problem with the Liquor Board for ten years. This year, he paid for a renewed adult entertainment license on June 15, 2013, and the license was issued on June 27, 2013. The licensee failed to pick up the license before the inspector came to the establishment (almost two months later and more than a month after the license displayed in the establishment had expired). The licensee immediately picked up the license from the Board and posted it after the inspector came in.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Washington Hill
Area demographics 29% White, 58% Black, 2% 2 or more races; 7% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,550.74; 35% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office 110 S. Broadway
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2 (licensees)
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Brooks
Result of hearing Guilty of the violation, but the Board waived the entire $500 of the fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Licensees Judy Sim & Do Han
Business Name 1231, Inc.
Trading As Suster’s Liquor
Address 1231-33 W. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.05(b) “No alcoholic beverages shall be served, dispensed, furnished or given away in any part of the premises during the hours when such sales are prohibited by law” (Re: May 7, 2013, Liquor Board Agent Fitzgerald witness alcoholic beverages being sold before 6 a.m.)
Hearing notes

James Oh, a manager of the store (but not at the time of the violation), appeared on behalf of the licensees. He admitted the violation

Chairman Fogleman read from Agent Fitzgerald’s report; Agent Fitzgerald no longer works for the Board and was not present to testify. Mr. Fitzgerald witnessed several patrons inside purchasing an alcoholic beverage at 5:50AM. Two of the customers in the store told Agent Fitzgerald that the store is always open before 6:00AM every day.

Mr. Oh replied that he does not open at 5:50AM every day. He arrives at 5:50 or 5:55AM every day, and he looks at the clock before he opens the store, but he did admit that the store was open early on May 7, 2013. Another manager was at the store that morning, who no longer works for the establishment. Mr. Oh told the Board that it will not happen again.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Hollins Market
Area demographics 83% Black, 13% White; 31% households have children under age 18; median household income: $19.183; 38% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors 1
Result of hearing Guilty of violation.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision The Board takes these cases seriously, though usually the problem is staying open after 2AM (not opening early). But they have to keep the penalties consistent.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Min Yong Jung, Jung Ku Kim & Jong Myun Park
Business Name B & G Liquor, Inc.
Trading As B&G Cutrate
Address 1538 W. Baltimore Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.15. “No licensee shall allow his premises to be used for the purpose of gambling in any form” (Re: April 29, 2013, police observed store clerk paying off customer at video poker machine in establishment). Violation of Rule 4.18 “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” (Re: Search and Seizure warrant executed on May 2, 2013)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski made a motion to dismiss for “staleness of charges,” because the alleged incident occurred in April. He alleged that his client was being denied due process, because the hearing is so late. Chairman Fogleman denied the motion, because Mr. Kodenski did not make any specific allegations of prejudice (in other words, Mr. Kodenski did not give any reason why the lateness of the hearing hurt his client in any way). The licensee denied the charges.

Baltimore City Police Detective Shelton Jones read from his report that there were video poker machines at the front of the store. A patron used the machine and received currency from the clerk, who reset the machine. Mr. Kodenski argued that there were problems with the police report: there were no names of the people involved and no reason provided as to why the machine was reset. He added, “we don’t know why the money was given over [by the clerk]. We can’t jump to the conclusion that just because an activity happened, that it’s an illegal activity.”

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Franklin Square
Area demographics 83% Black, 13% White; 31% households have children under age 18; median household income: $19,183; 38% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office 1538 West Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD 21223
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Guilty
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Detective Shelton Jones has an expertise in dealing with illegal gambling (the implication being that he knows it when he sees it).
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensee George Kritikos
Business Name 36 S. Eutaw, Inc.
Trading As Goddess
Address 36-38 S. Eutaw Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing As authorized by Article 2B, §12-203.1 and Baltimore City Code, Article 15, §1-3(a):
Violation of Adult Entertainment Rule 13 “Every adult-entertainment business must frame its adult-entertainment license under glass and display it on the premises so that it is at all times conspicuous and easily read.” (Re: August 17, 2013, Liquor Board Inspector Ray responding to a 311 complaint determined that the license displayed was invalid as of July 1, 2013 and therefore the establishment was operating without an Adult Entertainment License).
Violation of Rule 4.18 “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or moral.” (Re: July 1, 2013 & August 17, 2013 providing Adult Entertainment without a current Adult Entertainment Permit)
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski told the Board, “It wasn’t that they didn’t have a license. It’s that the license wasn’t on the wall.”

Zoning B-4-1
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 36 S. Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1 (licensee)
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors 1 – Jeffrey Ray
Result of hearing The Board found guilty of the violation but waived the $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision The licensee has never come before the Board for a violation before.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Licensee Richard Davis
Business Name Steel Drum Café, LLC
Trading As Tilted Pig
Address 771 Washington Boulevard
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.01 (a) “No licensee shall sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age or to any person with the knowledge that such person is purchasing or acquiring such beverage for consumption by any person under twenty-one (21) years of age” (Re: alcoholic beverage sold to minor police cadet on May 30, 2013).
Violation of Rule 4.18 “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or moral” (Re: an environmental citation from the Fire Department for overcrowding), and on May 3, 2013 (Re: 311 complaint for loud music, patrons dancing; providing live entertainment without permission from the board) and on May 15, 2013 (Re: 311 complaint-DJ nightly, zoning violation for providing live entertainment without permit) and on June 11, 2013 (Re: Charter of Limited Liability Company is not in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation)
Hearing notes

Several people from the community rose to testify when the case was called, but Chairman Fogleman told them that the Board has a “longstanding policy of not hearing from the community” in violations hearings. He added that the Board is not supposed to consider commmunity testimony in its decisions made in violations hearings.

Abraham Hurdle, Esq. represented the licensee. Mr. Hurdle is currently, according to LinkedIn, a paralegal in the Law Office of Melvin Kodenski.

The licensee, through Mr. Hurdle, admitted the Rule 4.01(a) violation (underage drinking). The security service that was on duty at the time and the waitress involved have been fired; the licensees have gone over and updated their alcohol service policies.

Baltimore Police Detective L.C. Greenhill read from his report on the underage drinking violation, which stated that underage Baltimore Police Cadet Emily Nicer ordered and was served a “Sex on the Beach” alcoholic mixed drink on the date in question.

Regarding the environmental citation from the Fire Department for overcrowding, the licensee informed the board that the establishment did not have fire certificate at premises for only one day. They had had the inspection the day before, but the permit didn’t come in as it was supposed to (it came in the next day). Mr. Hurdle argued that the violation was a de minimis violation, that “the place was at no point unsafe.”

As to the May 3, 2013 violation, (for loud music, dancing, and live entertainment): the manager at the time has been let go. Mr. Hurdle argued that the noise that the community thought was coming from the establishment was actually coming from the M&T Bank Stadium, which is close by. The community members who were present audibly gasped and laughed at this explanation.

Mr. Hurdle went on to explain that the licensee intends to transfer the license to a new owner, because his health has been slipping. A transfer application has been submitted for this location, but it has been a challenge to work with the licensee, because he is “very sick and in Annapolis.”

Moving on to the violation regarding the live entertainment without permission, Mr. Hurdle and the licensee informed the board that the DJ was for a private party, and it won’t happen again.

According to Mr. Hurdle, the LLC was in good standing immediately after June 11, 2013, and he submitted a certificate of good standing from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The licensee dismissed the community’s concerns, saying, “we get a lot of false complaints.”

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Washington Village/Pigtown
Area demographics The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) did not have demographics available for Washington Village/Pigtown.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Attorney for licensee Abraham Hurdle
# in support 1
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants 5 (the Board did not hear testimony from these protestants)
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing

Guilty of all violations. $500 fines for the Rule 4.01(a) violation and each of the the two Rule 4.18 violations. The corporate charter had been forfeited by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, for which the Board charged an additional $100 fine. The grand total came to $1725 in fines. The Chairman tweeted later on his Twitter account at @baltobeerbaron, “Tilted Pig, 771 Washington Boulevard, underage sales, overcrowding, unauthorized live entertainment, 1st offense, $1625.” When CLC followed up with the Chairman to clarify the total fine, he said that his Twitter announcement had been a typo.

Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision The Chairman added, “We’re giving you a break today by not suspending license.” He noted that there is a “disconcerting pattern” to the violations, but that the Board had taken into account what the manager had said about making changes since the violations.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.

2:00 p.m. cases

Mr. Melvin Kodenski, on behalf of Mr. Gary Maslan, asked for a postponement for the 1569-71 Ridgely Street case. Mr. Maslan was stuck in immigration court and could not attend the hearing. In addition, there are issues with zoning regarding the application for live entertainment. The Board granted the postponement request.

Licensee Nicolaos Trintis
Business Name No business name provided in docket
Trading As Bill’s Café
Address 6701-05 Holabird Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.16 “No licensee shall allow his premises to be used for the purpose of possession, transfer or use of any narcotic drug.” (Re: September 16, 2013, police observed patrons engaged in a drug transaction)

Violation of Rule 4.18 “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” (Re: September 16, 2013, police observed patron engaged in a drug transaction)

Hearing notes

Baltimore City Police Sergeant Ed Davis testified that he and his detective observed a drug transaction on September 16, 2013 at the doorway of Bill’s Cafe. The dealer was dealing right inside the doorway. The police arrested both the buyer and the dealer. The dealer’s girlfriend was the bartender at Bill’s Cafe. All of the drug transactions occurred in plain view of the bar. There have been thirty or forty arrests on the corner outside of the cafe. Robberies and other crimes are increasing, and the area is turning into an open air drug market. Sergeant Davis had told Mr. Trintis that he had to do something about the drug problem in his establishment, which the sergeant said was “out of control.”

Commissioner Jones asked Sergeant Davis, “what is it that you think he should have done that he didn’t do?” Sergeant Davis responded that Mr. Trintis should have been more careful in who he was hiring and he should have hired a security guard.

Mr. Trintis attempted to defend himself by pointing out that the drug dealer had conducted all of his transactions with his back to the bar area, adding, “I can’t see what he’s doing with his back to me.” Baltimore Police Detective David Kincaid responded that the dealer was undertaking transactions out of the very doorway of the bar, entering and exiting the bar area multiple times. Detective Kincaid said that these actions are consistent with street level drug activity, and it would be hard for Mr. Trintis to argue that there wasn’t knowledge of drug activity. Mr. Trintis reiterated that he “cannot see through [the drug dealer’s] clothing.” He informed the Board that the bar has been closed since the September 16 violation and that he was trying to sell the business. The bar has been in Mr. Trintis’s name as licensee for forty years and in his family’s name for sixty-two years.

Watch the YouTube video for this hearing!

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Graceland Park
Area demographics 44% White, 25% Black, 2% 2 or more races; 20% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,864.31; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No corporate entity provided in the docket.
Location of entity’s principal office No corporate entity provided in the docket.
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1 – licensee
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing License revoked
Vote tally 2-1 (Fogleman dissenting)
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision The Chairman noted the open-air availability of narcotics. The police had put Mr. Trentis on notice of problem at establishment. Drug activity, which the Board considers to be one of the most grave offenses that they deal with, has occurred twice within the calendar year. Chairman Fogleman dissented from the decision, because the licensee is trying to sell the license and the establishment is closed. He would have preferred to suspend the license until the licensee was able to sell it to a new licensee.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
Licensee Douglas Burgess-Secured Creditor
Business Name N/A
Trading As N/A
Address 2623-25 Washington Boulevard
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. DuBose, on behalf of Mr. Kenneth Rhoad, who was not present, informed the board that a contract of sale for the building at 2623-25 Washington Boulevard and the liquor license attached to that address will close within the next two weeks. As part of a foreclosure process, a bank (unnamed) took title to the building in January 2012 and the license was transferred to Mr. Douglas Burgess, the named “licensee” who was an attorney at the firm representing the bank in the foreclosure. Mr. Burgess is an attorney at Nolan, Plumhoff & Williams, Chtd. Mr. DuBose informed the court that the license had been transferred to another attorney in July 2013, this time at Mr. DuBose’s firm, Gebhardt & Smith LLP; the current secured creditor’s name is Mr. Kenneth Rhoad, Esq. Mr. DuBose suggested that these transfers of the secured creditorship among the attorneys would “reset the clock” for the hardship extensions.

Ms. Carol McCoy, on behalf of the Morrell Park Community Association, testified that the liquor licensed business has been closed for eighteen months. It used to be called “Club Reality.” She said that no one from the firms involved had approached the community. Councilman Ed Reisinger also testified that he has been a resident of Morrell Park for decades and that the establishment had had a lot of issues. Since the place closed, “it’s been peaceful.” Councilman Reisinger asked Mr. DuBose who the transfer will eventually go to, since it is currently being transferred from one attorney to another. Mr. DuBose replied that a transfer application would be put in by the eventual buyer of the property if the sale goes through.

In closing, Mr. DuBose argued to the Board that the secured creditor, Mr. Rhoad, does have an economic interest in the license. The building will be much more difficult to transfer in the upcoming closing without the license.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Morrell Park
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 2% Asian. 10% Hispanic ethnicity. 40% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $32,888.50
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No corporate entity provided in docket.
Location of entity’s principal office No corporate entity provided in docket.
Attorney for licensee Mr. Richard DuBose of Gebhardt & Smith LLP
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 2 – Carol McCoy, President of Morrell Park Community Association; Councilman Ed Reisinger
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Hardship extension denied
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision There have been two previous hardship extensions granted, on April 4, 2013 and August 9, 2012. We’re concerned that licenses could live forever without opening. We don’t want [the license] passed from attorney to attorney. This would be a third hardship extension request since the bar closed. “If the bar had opened for a day and then closed, then it would have restarted the clock.”
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Rosa Gargano & George Rhoads
Business Name Rocco’s Capriccio, Inc.
Trading As Rocco’s Capriccio
Address 242 S. High Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request for a hardship extension under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
Hearing notes

Mr. Prevas, on behalf of his client, informed the board that the licensee had submitted a first hardship request under Article 2B section 10-504 on October 29, 2013. The bar had closed on April 30, 2013. The licensees are in talks to sell the building.

Zoning B-3-2
Neighborhood Little Italy
Area demographics 58% Black, 29% White, 5% Asian; 7% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% of households have children under age 18
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No, the corporate charter is forfeited, according to the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1 – Inspector Brooks
Result of hearing Granted.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

There are 182 days between April 30, 2013 and October 29, 2013. The request for the hardship extension was not timely filed under Article 2B section 10-504.

Section 10-504 states, in relevant part, that “180 days after the holder of any license … has closed the business or ceased active alcoholic beverages business operations of the business for which the license is held, the license shall expire unless … a written request for a hardship extension, as provided in this subsection, is filed within the 180-day period.”

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