Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on January 15, 2015.

Written by Becky Witt

11:00 a.m. cases

Hearings began, with all three commissioners present, at 11:13 a.m.

I. Transfers and amendments:

Applicants James Weisgerber & Demian Costa
Business Name 2600 Insulator Drive Licensee, LLC
Trading As Nick’s Fish House
Address 2600 Insulator Drive
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Attorneys Stanley Fine and Justin Williams represented the two applicants for the transfer of ownership. The two current licensees were also present at the hearing. Fine explained that they were requesting a transfer of ownership of an existing BD-7 license, which is already operating as Nick’s Fish House. There has been a bar and restaurant in this location since 1984, and there have been no violations since 2003. The name will remain the same. They’ve received Zoning Board approval, according to Fine, for live entertainment. The new applicants are requesting that the marina, with the boat slips, be included as part of the liquor licensed premises. He submitted a certificate of good standing for the applicants’ corporate entity. Fine said that the establishment is located in an industrial part of Port Covington and “isn’t near a community.” Mr. Weisberger, according to Fine, has significant restaurant experience and currently owns restaurants in Delaware. The applicants want to continue hosting live entertainment.

Commissioner Moore asked for more specific details about the scope of the license and its extension to the marina. Mr. Fine replied that his clients feel that the license extends out into the marina area and that alcohol can be served out on the 186 boat slips. He clarified that the license is a BD-7 tavern license, which allows the sale of package goods. The current licensee testified that, historically, there hasn’t been much of a package goods business at this location.

Commisisoner Jones asked what the capacity of the outdoor area would be? The applicants did not know. Commissioner Moore added a question about how the Liquor Board’s inspectors could enforce liquor laws if people are being served at their boats. The applicants did not know. They reiterated that they have never had a complaint or a Liquor Board citation, and that there is no other licensee in the Port Covington area. They said that the nearest resident is probably one mile away.

Zoning M-3
Neighborhood Port Covington
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 15% households have children under age 18; median household income: $73,342; 8% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Stanley Fine & Mr. Justin Williams, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally 2 yes, 1 no (Jones dissenting)
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 Rule 5.03(a) states that, in a BD-7, package goods, if sold, must be sold over a bar. Package goods being delivered out to boats on a marina does not seem to fit the description required in Rule 5.03.
Applicants Christopher Nwaze & Musibau Shittu
Business Name C and G Group, LLC
Trading As Posh-Mix
Address 8-14 Park Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor restaurant license under the provisions of Rule 2.08 requiring $200,000 in capital investment in restaurant fixtures and facilities and seating capacity for a minimum of 75 people
Hearing notes

The hearing was postponed until January 29, 2015.

Zoning B-4-2
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 Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee N/A
# in support N/A
Attorney for community N/A
# of protestants N/A
# of inspectors/police officers N/A
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally None
Portions of state law cited in decision N/A
Other reasons given for decision N/A
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant John Plank
Business Name Square Wine Co, LLC
Trading As Trade name pending
Address 838 E. Fort Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership & location of a “BD7” BWL license presently located at 1538 Clement Street to 838 E. Fort Avenue
Hearing notes

Mr. Joseph Woolman represented the applicant, who was not present at the hearing. He explained to the Board that his client was seeking a transfer of ownership and location of a BD-7 liquor license in Locust Point. The Riverside Neighborhood Association is in support. Previously, the bar was called Thornton’s Pub and closed down as of June 3, 2013. The applicant applied for his transfer on December 1, 2013, “just barely making the 180 day rule.” The new concept is a wine shop and restaurant; the owner is still in negotiations with various operators, and his client will likely return for another transfer of ownership to the “actual owner.” The neighborhood understands this process and supports it.

Chairman Ward noted that the community association’s letter of support requests that the Board prohibit live entertainment for one year at this location. Woolman indicated that his client had agreed to that condition.

Commissioner Moore said that she did not understand the timeline for this license. Documents in the file showed that the business closed May 31, 2013. The owners received a hardship extension on December 12, 2013, which would have extended to June 12, 2014. There was also a transfer to a secured creditor in 2014. Mr. Woolman responded that the official closing date was June 3, 2013, not May 31, 2013, and that his clients filed a transfer application on December 2, 2013.

Deputy Executive Secretary Thomas Akras told the Commissioners that, because there was a secured creditor in this case, “under the statute there is an 18 month period to wind down that process.”

Commissioner Moore asked whether Mr. Plank was an applicant on the Belvedere Square arena license. Mr. Woolman responded that he is not on the application for Belvedere Square.

Chairman Ward pointed out that the current licensee was not present at the hearing. He said that, effective January 15, both the seller and the buyer of a license must be present at the transfer hearing. Mr. Woolman said that the buyer was dealing with a “family issue.”

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Riverside
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 15% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $73,342. 8% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Joseph Woolman
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Approved
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

The dates in this case are not consistent. Woolman stated that the bar closed on June 3, 2013 and his client, the applicant, submitted his application either December 1 or December 2, 2013, which Woolman described as being just under the wire for the 180-day rule. December 1, 2013, however, is 181 days after June 3, and December 2 is 182 days later. So his client may not have applied within the 180 day period after all.

Upon further discussion with the Executive Secretary and Deputy Executive Secretary after the hearing and off the record, it became clearer that the former licensee had gone through bankruptcy, which stayed the Liquor Board’s procedures and gave the former licensee extra time to transfer its assets. But it was never made clear in the hearing: (1) that the entity had gone through bankruptcy, or (2) when the filing date for that bankruptcy was. It is possible that the license had already expired if the transferring entity filed for bankruptcy after November 30, 2013. In any case, a clear and well-cited argument from Liquor Board employees and Commissioners alike would be helpful for those in the audience to understand the law and how it applies in various situations.

Applicants Chong Ki Lee & Aimee Mcgee
Business Name Millionaire, Inc.
Trading As Young’s Place
Address 2200 E. Fayette Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to remove restrictions – “No separate package goods store or department to be created. All package goods to be sold over the bar.”
Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth told the Commissioners that the licensees were not able to attend the hearing due to a language difficulty. They were notified of the hearing, but they called the office several times, asking to postpone it. Chairman Ward said that the licensees’ request should be dismissed and not postponed or rescheduled. He said, “people have an obligation to be present.”

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood CARE
Area demographics 5% White, 89% Black, 2% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; median household income: $15,415; 47% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Request dismissed
Vote tally None taken
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision “People have an obligation to be present,” said Chairman Ward.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicants Brett Austin & Joshua Foti
Business Name 18 Cross, LLC
Trading As Crossbar
Address 18 E. Cross Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership & location of a Class “BD7” BWL license presently located at 1015-19 S. Charles
Street
Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth told the Commissioners that all of the parties involved in this case (including those opposed to the transfer) agreed to a postponement. The Chairman agreed to the postponement in this case.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 15% households have children under age 18; median household income: $73,342; 8% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally None taken
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
Applicant Embaye Kebrab
Business Name Bini, LLC
Trading As Bini, LLC
Address 2300 Orem Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth told the Commissioners that the attorney for the transfer, the applicant, and the neighborhood had all agreed to postpone this hearing until February 26, 2015. Chairman Ward said that he was generally opposed to postponements, except when there’s no reason not to postpone.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Parkview/Woodbrook
Area demographics 6% White, 90% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 28% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,502.54; 28% of households living below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally None taken
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

1:00 p.m. cases

II. Violations:

Licensee Rory Yanes
Business Name Compadres-1 LLC
Trading As El Antro
Address 4020 E. Lombard Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12: Public Welfare – November 23 , 2014 – At approximately 1:48 AM Officer observed a bloodied individual approach her vehicle and state that he was seriously assaulted in the parking lot of “El Antro.” The Officer was able to detain 3 suspected who were later identified as the individuals who committed the assault against the victim. Investigation by the Officer revealed that there was a verbal altercation that occurred inside of “El Antro” and that the suspects followed the victim out to the establishment’s parking lot and assaulted him. The victim was sent to the hospital with serious physical injuries.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct – November 23, 2014 – At approximately 1:48 AM Officer observed a bloodied individual approach her vehicle and state that he was seriously assaulted in the parking lot of “El Antro.” The Officer was able to detain 3 suspected who were later identified as the individuals who committed the assault against the victim. Investigation by the Officer revealed that there was a verbal altercation that occurred inside of “El Antro” and that the suspects followed the victim out to the establishment’s parking lot and assaulted him. Both the verbal and physical altercation happened on the grounds of “El Antro.”

Violation of Rule 4.02: Inebriates and Drug Addicts — November 23 , 2014 – At approximately 1:48 AM Officer conducted an investigation into an assault on the grounds of “El Antro” and arrested 3 suspects. The 2 of the suspects admitted to being in “El Antruso” and consuming alcohol. All 3 suspects were inebriated as all slurred their speech, had bloodshot eyes, and one of them began vomiting uncontrollably in police presence.

Hearing notes

Mr. John Pica represented the licensee, who was present with his manager. The licensee did not dispute the events as described by the police. Mr. Thomas Akras, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Liquor Board, read the facts into the record (as laid out in the docket, above).

Mr. Pica made one clarification, which is that he stated that the physical altercation began outside, not inside, though there was a verbal argument inside. The parking lot is part of the licensed establishment’s property.

The Highlandtown Community Association had sent in a letter to the Board, expressing concern about this bar. Mr. Pica said that he had tried to figure out which community association this bar belonged to, but concluded that there was no community association with “jurisdiction” over this location. Pica said that his client is amenable to discussing the issues with HCA. The licensee “doesn’t take this lightly” and “doesn’t like this activity taking place at his bar.” He said that the licensee would like to hire off-duty police officers and would tell the taco truck which comes to the parking lot at closing time to leave. None of the previous infractions on the license include violence, according to the attorney. Pica closed by saying that his clients are here at the mercy of the Board and they would like to meet with the community association to address the issues. He said that the licensee is a “family man” with a son “on scholarship to Georgetown University.” The licensee cooperated with the officers in providing descriptions of the suspects and assisted with the investigation, which has led the the arrest of the individuals involved. Pica said, “there’s some bad guys who go into this place. If they don’t go there, they’re going to go somewhere else.”

Commissioner Moore said that her concern is that what happened was very serious, and a person could have been murdered. She said that the facts seem to suggest that the operator of this bar is not in control, and the fact that the owner was not there at the time suggests that he is an absentee licensee. Pica noted that there are several other bars across the street and nearby. The police officers testified that they have had to break up several altercations outside this bar. There are regularly drunk disorderly people in front of the bar, and sometimes they have open containers of alcohol. It creates a lot of noise. The officers make it a priority to drive by and check that specific bar. The officers testified that there are frequent problems in the parking lot. There have been some arrests directly in front of the bar because of fights, traffic violations and disorderly conduct.

Chairman Ward asked Mr. Akras and Mr. Pica for their suggestions of a reasonable penalty. Mr. Pica did not suggest a penalty but reiterated that his client wants the opportunity to work with the police department and community and address any noise, loitering and other complaints. Mr. Akras said that a suspension and fine would be warranted, though he does not normally give recommendations to the Board. He suggested a 30-45 day suspension and a sizeable fine.

Zoning M-3
Neighborhood Baltimore Highlands
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian, 2% 2 or more races, 30% Hispanic ethnicity, 30% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $39,874.02; 18% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. John Pica
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers ~5
Result of hearing Responsible for charges. 9 week suspension, $7,500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward noted all of the credible police testimony that he had heard about the lack of proper supervision at this establishment. Ward said that the police shouldn’t have to be policing bars, and he was concerned about a seeming absence of liquor inspectors. He told Mr. Yanes that he can’t blame the taco bus. You have to do what you have to do. The other two commissioners agreed.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Licensees and their attorneys often claim that they couldn’t find the community association that represents their area. The Baltimore City Community Association Directory and/or Cityview will provide a list for any city address of all community associations on record that represent that address. For 4020 E Lombard Street, cityview.baltimorecity.gov lists: Brewer’s Hill Community Association, Highlandtown Community Association, Southeast Community Development Corporation, Highlandtown Arts & Entertainment District, Eastern Community Action Center, Southeast Presidents Council, and the Southeastern District Police Community Relations Council.
Licensees Meenakshi Sharma & Andrea Allen
Business Name L and M Enterprises, Inc.
Trading As Lou’s Bar & Liquors
Address 4819 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12: Public Welfare– December 7, 2014 – At approximately 1:15 AM Officer responded to the establishment for a report of an assault taking place. Upon arrival he observed numerous people outside of the bar holding pool sticks. Once the crowd was dispersed, he entered into the bar and observed numerous beer bottles broken all over the floor of the establishment. The bartender admitted to the Officer that a fight had broken out inside the bar and spilled out into the street. There was one female victim involved, but she refused medical attention.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the licensee, who brought three employees with her to testify on her behalf.

Baltimore Police Officer Steven Downing, patrol officer for four years in the Southeast district, testified that on December 7, 2014, at 1:15 AM, he responded to a call for service at the bar. There were several people inside, one with a small cut on the head. There were broken beer bottles on the floor and chairs and stools knocked over. Officer Downing tried to speak to all of the patrons, but they refused to tell him what had happened. He spoke to an employee in the package goods section in the front of the building, who told him that a fight had broken out in the bar section in the back, and everyone who was involved in the fight had left. Since all the other witnesses refused to talk to him, he left the premises and wrote his report.

Ms. Susan J Brooks, the bar manager at the establishment, testified that there were a couple of patrons playing pool in the back; one of them was shoved and got into a fight. Two bottles were broken on the floor. Ms. Brooks testified that she told everybody to leave the bar; she opened up the back door and everybody left. No one was injured or required medical attention.

Licensee Meenakshi Sharma testified that she has been a licensee for one year and has had no problems. She said that if anyone starts to fight, she tells them to leave and makes sure they don’t come back. After the incident, she hired a security company and paid $300 to cover New Year’s Eve, but she only had five customers. Ms. Sharma’s landowner also testified on her behalf.

Mr. Kodenski concluded by arguing that the incident was not a violation of Rule 3.12, because the neighbors were not disturbed. “Badda bing badda boom,” and the incident was over, said Kodenski.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Greektown
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian; 30% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,987.50.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support ~4
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible. $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

The Commissioners agreed with Kodenski that the incident seemed to be isolated, and they were impressed with the level of responsibility taken by the licensee and her efforts to mitigate in the future. Moore noted that if Ms. Sharma comes in again, that starts to create a pattern, and “patterns get dealt with.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Bars sometimes tell the Commissioners that they immediately push lawbreakers (people fighting or drinking from open containers in a liquor store) outside. However, making someone with an open container go out onto the sidewalk or pushing people who are fighting out into the community is not a solution to the problem. In fact, from the community’s perspective, this is more of a nuisance than keeping the lawbreakers contained within the establishment.

Licensee Ginger Cornejo
Business Name Ginger, Inc.
Trading As Mustang Inn
Address 3203 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 21, 2014 – At approximately 12:17am the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “Coors Light” for $2.50 from the bartender using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then phoned police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the licensee that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the shopkeeper and the $2.50 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the licensee, who brought four witnesses to testify on her behalf. The licensee admitted the charges, so Mr. Akras read the statement of facts into the record. Akras submitted a photograph of Cadet Emily Neisser with her purchased alcoholic bevarege. Chairman Ward looked at the photo and then at the cadet and said, “you’ve got your hair all dolled up here. You look pretty good.”

In mitigation of her punishment, Kodenski told the Board that the employee who served the cadet was present at the hearing, as well as a representative from the Highlandtown Business Association. Ms. Cornejo lives on the premises, and the bartender who served the cadet had only worked there fr two days. Cornejo has all of her employees take the alcohol awareness course.

Ms. Cornejo has two past offenses: one for a violation of Rule 3.12 and one for illegal gambling.

Mr. David Blair, a neighbor, said that he is a regular customer of the bar (at least five days a week) and has never really seen any problems. Blair said that if there were any violations in the past, it was because of the neighbor next door starting trouble.

Mr. Andre Holmes, from the Highlandtown Business Association, testified that Ms. Cornejo is a fair, reputable person as far as business owners on Eastern Avenue corridor. The violation of Rule 4.01(a) was an oversight by the bartender; Mr. Holmes said that, in his experience, sometimes in haste, you can make an assessment that you probably shouldn’t. He pointed out that the cadet was “very well-dressed and dolled up.”

Ms. Tess Callan, the bartender who served alcohol to the cadet, testified that she is a graduate of UMBC, owns a house, and studies political science and law. She said that the Mustang Inn serves a diverse group of people, like young professionals, engineers, hipsters, and everyone drinks together. Callan said that it is a real shame that the bar is getting so much negative attention from the neighbor next door. Callan argued, “it’s a nice neighborhood dive bar” and she explained her mistake by saying that you wouldn’t think that an underage person would walk into a bar and order a drink.

Commissioner Moore asked about all of the “allusions to the bad neighbor.” She asked whether Cornejo had tried to talk with the neighbor? The licensee responded that she has installed a security system and hired security, but the neighbor complains about anything that happens in front of the building. Cornejo made recommendations to the neighbor, but she hasn’t agreed on them. The licensee said that she tried to talk to the neighbor, but she doesn’t want to talk to Cornejo. Moore asked, “what is your policy about who gets carded?” Cornejo responded that anyone who looks under the age of 35 should get carded. Moore pointed out that the licensees should err on the side of carding, because “you’re not going to upset anybody if you card them.”

Ms. Cornejo told the Board that she knows that her license is a privilege, that she respects her license and is a hard worker. Commissioner Moore told Cornejo that Chairman Ward often says that liquor licenses are a privilege but that they’ve never had a licensee say it. Moore told the licensee, “if we had a prize, we’d give it to you.”

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Canton
Area demographics 86% White, 4% Black, 3% Asian; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% households have children under age 18; median household income: $82,130
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 5
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $750 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Two previous serious violations, but the commissioners were impressed with the licensee’s testimony and attitude.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Antonio Santana & Sharon McNew
Business Name Woparico, Inc.
Trading As Sharky’s Bar & Grill
Address 2819 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 21, 2014 – At approximately 12:01 AM the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “Coors Light” for $3.00 from the bartender/store clerk using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then communicated with police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the bartender/store clerk that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the bartender and the $3.00 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Commissioner Jones recused himself from the case, because he works with one of the licensees in a different position.

The licensees admitted the facts, so Mr. Akras read them into the record.

Mr. Boston told the Board that these licensees have owned this bar since 1995, for 19 years, and they have never had a violation. They send all their bartenders to alcohol awareness classes. The employee was suspended for two weeks, and they have instituted a new policy that anyone who sells to a minor will be immediately terminated. The owners allow the community to use their bar and restaurant for meetings, and they sponsor baseball, stickball, and kickball teams. The employee who sold to the underage cadet is an excellent employee, and this was a one-time mistake.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Canton
Area demographics 86% White, 4% Black, 3% Asian; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% households have children under age 18; median household income: $82,130
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Frank Boston
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 4
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $250 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous (Jones abstaining)
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision 19 year history without a violation
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensees Jerry Stern & Cindy Stern
Business Name 4801 Eastern Avenue Corporation
Trading As O’Connors
Address 4801 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 21, 2014 – At approximately 12:38 AM the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “Angry Orchard Hard Cider 6-pack” for $10.89 from the bartender/store clerk using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then communicated with police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the bartender/store clerk that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the bartender and the $10.89 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Mr. Howard Miliman represented the licensee, who admitted the violation. Mr. Akras, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Liquor Board, read a statement of facts into the record and submitted a photograph of the cadet with the alcoholic beverage that she purchased.

In mitigation of his punishment, Mr. Miliman told the Board that his client has owned his bar for twenty years. The employee who served the underage cadet has not been terminated, but she agreed to complete alcohol awareness certification. The employee also offered to pay the licensee back any fine that he would be charged by the Board; she is a single mother and will lose her home if she loses her job. He installed a sign on the register that tells customers if they do not look 40, they should have their ID ready.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Greektown
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian; 30% Hispanic ethnicity; 30% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,987.50.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Howard Miliman
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 4
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $1,000 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
Licensee Leonard Clarke
Business Name REMA, LLC
Trading As Red Maple
Address 930 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 20, 2014 – At approximately 11:00 PM the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “National Bohemian” for $3.00 from the bartender/store clerk using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then communicated with police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the bartender/store clerk that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the bartender and the $3.00 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Mr. Leonard Clarke appeared on his own behalf, unrepresented. He did not dispute the facts, so Mr. Akras read them into the record and presented the Board with a photograph of Cadet Neisser.

Mr. Clarke, in his defense, stated that he has owned the business for thirteen years, and this is his first violation, or at least his first in quite some time. He runs an upscale restaurant lounge, and he is a resident of the neighborhood. He lives above the establishment with his wife and six-year-old son. His doorman used poor judgment in letting Ms. Neisser in the door. Clarke said that he doesn’t have a reputation for allowing underage drinking. Clarke said that his employee is going to be fired because of this mistake. The local community association has held their holiday party in the establishment, and he has helped to raise money for charities through various events. The record showed a “conference” from 2008 and a $100 fine. Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth said that the $100 was a “conference fee” and that there is no prior conviction or violation on the record.

Zoning B-4-2
Neighborhood Mount Vernon
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,331; 5.5 % households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 4
Result of hearing Responsible for charge. $500 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

Finding 17 of the 2013 Legislative Audit found that the “BLLC used alternatives to the Board hearing process to address violations and infractions, and the Board had not formally approved these alternatives.” The auditors said that these alternatives (like the conferences referred to in the hearing notes above) were carrying out functions of the Board but were not officially approved and were not open to the public. Few if any records were ever kept from these “conferences” – no minutes of these meetings, no recordings, no paperwork to explain the violation that was charged or the punishment assigned. The new Commissioners and Board staff have ended this process and are now assigning penalties for violations in public hearings.

Licensees Dhruba Onta & Daoud Faddoul
Business Name BDU Nepal, LLC
Trading As Bristol Liquors
Address 507 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 20, 2014 – At approximately 11:35 PM the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “Bud Light Cranbrita” for $3.00 from the bartender/store clerk using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then communicated with police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the bartender/store clerk that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the bartender and the $3.00 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Mr. Abraham Hurdle represented the licensees, who admitted the violations. Mr. Thomas Akras read a statement of facts for the incident.

In mitigation, Hurdle explained that this violation is the first that the licensees have received since they began operating under their BD-7 license in July. There are two licenses at this address: a Class A license and a Class BD-7 license. Prior to the transfer of the BD-7, the licensee operated under a Class A. There are two previous violations on the Class A. Hurdle told the Board that there was an unusual incident on the day in question. The licensee’s “water heater blew up,” so he stepped away, and the person who took over was the person who made the mistake. That person only worked one day, as a friend helping out, and he made a mistake. Commissioner Moore said that she was confused about how there are two licenses at the same location. Mr. Hurdle explained that they transferred in a BD-7 tavern license into an establishment previously operated as a liquor store. They have not yet had a chance to move their Class A license elsewhere. Hurdle said that they have never closed, both licenses have been renewed and both are in compliance.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible for violations. $250 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

Mr. Hurdle mis-stated the law in this hearing. Article 2B section 9-102(b-2)(3) says that a licensee may be transferred into an establishment with an existing license if the existing license is held in inoperative status and the existing license is revoked 180 days after the effective transfer date. The Class A license at this address may have already expired, depending on when the transfer in July took place.

Licensee John Baglanis
Business Name Egg, Inc.
Trading As Mr. Joe’s Bar & Cutrate
Address 1-3 S. Highland Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 21, 2014 – At approximately 12:57am the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “Smirnoff Pineapple 375 ml” for $8.22 from the bartender using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then phoned/communicated with police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the bartender that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the bartender and the $8.22 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the licensee, who admitted the vilations. Mr. Akras read a brief statement of facts and submitted a photograph of Ms. Neisser with her alcoholic beverage.

Chairman Ward noted that this establishment has had at least three recent violations of law. The licensee said that he had instituted a new policy where if any minors get served, the person responsible is automatically fired. The employee in this case was fired. He told the licensee that Ms. Neisser walking into the bar was “the best thing that happened to him all night” and that he had no other explanation other than “it was late and she was cute.” The licensee said that he had a very unlucky period where his employees served cadets three years in a row.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Baltimore Highlands
Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian, 2% 2 or more races, 30% Hispanic ethnicity, 30% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $39,874.02; 18% households live below the poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible. 2 week suspension, $3,000 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Previous record of serving underage patrons.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensee Margaret Collins
Business Name Whatever, Inc.
Trading As Depot
Address 1728 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 20, 2014 – At approximately 10:34 PM the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “Coors Light” for $3.00 from the licensee/bartender using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then phoned police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the manager that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the shopkeeper and the $3.00 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Licensee Margaret Collins was present, unrepresented and admitted the charges. Thomas Akras, Deputy Executive Secretary for the Liquor Board then read the charges and presented the Board with a photograph taken of Ms. Neisser with her purchased alcohol on the night in question.

Ms. Collins testified that, on November 20, she did have an employee checking IDs at the door, who somehow missed the cadet coming in. This is her seventeenth year in business, and the door employee has worked for her for three years. Collins said that if she hadn’t had an employee at the door, she would have known immediately to card Ms. Neisser, who “stood out like a sore thumb” among the 50 year old patrons. The licensee told the Commissioners that she does not condone underage drinking. She lives in her community, above her business, and she is involved in charity and community work. She has never had a blemish on her record, so this mistake is upsetting to her.

Zoning B-5-2
Neighborhood Charles North
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $250 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 Yoojun Kim & Mi Sun Kim
Business Name YJK, Inc.
Trading As Jen Liquors
Address 5303-05 York Road
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 20, 2014 – At approximately 9:19 PM the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “6-pack of Green Apple Smirnoff” for $14.99 from the shopkeeper using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then left the establishment and then phoned police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the manager that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the shopkeeper and the $14.99 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Mr. Yoojun Kim was present, unrepresented. He admitted the violation and said that he made a mistake. He told the Commissioners that he tries to keep a drug-free store, and he calls the police directly to tell people not to hang around. Sometimes, he calls five times a day, and he feels like he’s bothering the police. Chairman Ward told Mr. Kim that he alone is responsible for policing the establishment. It is not the police department’s problem to use their equipment and personnel to make sure that the licensee is complying with the law. Kim said that they put up signs saying that they card everyone under 30.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Woodbourne-McCabe
Area demographics 5% White, 91% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 34% households have children under age 18; 18% households below poverty line; median household income: $38,396.20
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Ellicott City, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible for charge. $250 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 Se Joon Chung & Chung Im Chung
Business Name None provided
Trading As Charles Village Schnapp Shop
Address 2941 N. Calvert Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Minors – November 20, 2014 – At approximately 10:08 PM the Baltimore Police Department conducted an underage alcohol investigation at the establishment. A police cadet, who was under the age of 21, entered the establishment and purchased a “6-pack of Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale” for $10.13 from the shopkeeper using a $20 bill that was marked by police. The cadet then left the establishment and then phoned police who responded to the scene. The police entered the establishment and notified the manager that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. The police then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the shopkeeper and the $10.13 that was provided to the cadet as change by the establishment.

Hearing notes

Licensee Chung Im Chung was present, unrepresented, with her son Chae Chung as her translator. They admitted responsibility for the violation. In mitigation, Ms. Chung told the Board that she has been at her location for 28 years, since 1987. She works the counter most of the time, and this is the first time she has failed and been cited. She was in a rush to close up, and it slipped her mind to ask for ID. She said that, now that she is 65, she thinks her faculties are going, but she will endeavor to do a better job. In 2005, there was a previous violation, that was Mr. Chung’s fault. They will card everyone under 40. Mr. Chung noted that the cadet in this case looked very young, but there was another cadet that the police department used who, “honest to God,” looked 35 or 40 years old.

Commissioner Moore noted, on their behalf, that they run a neighborhood store that also sells household supplies, food products, beverages, soda, and, most important to her, dog food. Moore said that the store is a real neighborhood staple and the customers are mostly students and young professionals.

Zoning R-7
Neighborhood Charles Village
Area demographics 44% White, 35% Black, 3% 2 or more races, 13% Asian, 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,130.79; 14% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? No corporate entity provided.
Location of entity’s principal office No corporate entity provided.
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $500 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

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