Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on February 25, 2016

Written by Becky Witt

I. Expedited Items (Transfers):

Applicant Adrian Aeschliman
Business Name Castagno Management, LLC
Trading As Colette
Address 1707 N. Charles Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership; requests for off-premise catering & outdoor table service
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski, for his client, the applicant, proffered that the application is for the transfer of ownership of an existing license, formerly the Red Parrot. He submitted a proposed menu for the restaurant. Kodenski said that Mr. Aeschliman has “talked with the community groups there.” Kodenski noted that his client is also requesting permission for catering, which was apparently not on the application he submitted to the agency; Mr. Kodenski had apparently submitted an email with the addition to the application at some unspecified time before the hearing. Commissioner Hafey asked which community groups the applicant had contacted. Kodenski replied that he had talked to Charles North Community Association, who chose not to oppose the transfer. He added that this group is pretty vocal, so if they had anything to say, the Liquor Board would know.

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
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# 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 Art. 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Applicant Joseph Lloyd
Business Name None in docket
Trading As Joe’s Tavern of Dundalk
Address 1006-08 Dundalk Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski represented the applicant, who is requesting the transfer of ownership of a license at Joe’s Tavern, which, according to Kodenski, has been there “since Prohibition.” The applicant, according to his attorney, talked to “everyone in the area” and “everyone’s looking forward to him taking over the place.” Lloyd owns a valet parking business in addition to this tavern. The applicant said that he would be running the day to day operation.

Commissioner Hafey asked whether the applicant had spoken with any community association. Kodenski responded that this area used to have an active community association, run by Joyce Adamski, but he hadn’t seen her in a while.

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? N/A
Location of entity’s principal office N/A
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Unclear, the length of time of Baltimore residency was not completed on the application.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 100%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# 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 Art. 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Completeness: The application did not contain a statement about the applicant’s length of Baltimore City residency or the property address on which he pays taxes in his individual name.

Applicants Ann McRae & Shia Ying Lin
Business Name Xiao Xin Corporation
Trading As H & C Market
Address 1946 Penrose Avenue
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes

Mr. Jay Yoo represented the two applicants, present at the hearing. He explained that Ms. Lin will run the business and live above it. She is in the process of becoming a citizen and acquiring ownership of the real property. The current licensee is Ms. Lin’s brother, who will train her on how to run the business. The store is run as a food market, so 70% of her receipts are from the sale of food. Ms. Lin will not make any significant changes to the inside or the operation of the establishment.

Mr. Yoo said that he used Baltimore City’s website to find a community association, but he couldn’t find any for this address.

Zoning R-7
Neighborhood Penrose/Fayette Street Outreach
Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 37% households have children under age 18; median household income: $27,751.89
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident 1%
Attorney for licensee Mr. Jay Yoo
# in support 2
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 Art. 2B section 10-202(a)
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Community associations: Baltimore’s Cityview website shows 10 possible community associations, at least several of whom are definitely active: Fayette Street Outreach Organization, Gwynns Falls Trail Council, Operation Reachout Southwest (OROSW), Southwest Sanitation Task Force, Western District Police-Community Relations Council, Western Human Services Center, Communities Organized To Improve Life (COIL), West Baltimore MARC TOD | Transportation, Inc (WBMTTI), West Baltimore Coalition, and West Baltimore Strategic Alliance.

II. Violations:

Licensees Charles Armwood & Michael Ghebru
Business Name Doc Liquors, Inc.
Trading As Doc’s Liquor
Address 1501 N. Fulton Street
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Sales to Minors – January 12, 2016 – At approximately 9:50 PM, The Baltimore Sheriff’s Office, and the BLLC conducted random, joint investigations of establishments to determine if licensees would sell alcoholic beverages to minors. The joint task force responded to the establishment and sent Baltimore City Sheriff volunteer Tyler White, who is under the age of 21, into the establishment to attempt to purchase an alcoholic beverage(s). At that time Mr. White entered the establishment and asked to purchase a “Bud Light.” Utilizing a departmental $20 bill, Mr. White purchased the alcoholic beverage for $1.99. Mr. White was then provided a 25 oz. can of Bud Light by the bartender/store clerk. Mr. White then communicated to the task force of the sale. Members of the task force 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 task force then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the bartender and the change that was provided to Mr. White.

Hearing notes

Mr. Kodenski admitted the violation, speaking for his client, the licensee.

Dr. Marvin “Doc” Cheatham testified, as the President of the Matthew Hensen Neighborhood Association, that his group was initially opposed to the transfer of ownership to the current licensee. They met with the applicant to share their concerns and came to a written agreement in which they would not oppose the transfer under certain conditions. Over objections from Mr. Kodenski, Cheatham said that the agreement has been ignored by the licensees; they have not followed through with their promises to the community association.

In mitigation, Mr. Kodenski said that his client allowed his cousin to run the store temporarily and there was a momentary lapse. His client is sorry for the mistake, and it will not happen again.

The commissioners then looked at the Memorandum of Understanding between the Robert W. Coleman association and the licensee, which was in the file. Commissioner Hafey stated that she believed that the MOU could be brought up during a protest of renewal.

Responding to a question from Commissioner Trotter, Cheatham elaborated that drug sales take place daily in front of the store and inside it. The police sometimes come and clear people out, but they return. Kodenski objected and said that there are drug sales “in this building [City Hall], probably.”

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Sandtown-Winchester
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 (but there was a typo in the docket).
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors/police officers 0
Result of hearing Responsible. $750 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.

At this point in the docket, Chairman Neil called up Mr. Thomas Akras, Deputy Executive Secretary of the BLLC for Baltimore City to give a report on alternative mechanisms of addressing problem alcohol outlets. Neil said, “I know that there has been some conversation about communities feeling that they’re not being heard or that we’re not following the law. … It is my opinion that we have followed Article 2B explicitly and that there are other options to the community.”

Mr. Akras then told the commissioners about three instances in the Baltimore City Code that refer to public nuisances: in Article 19 of the police ordinance. Akras said that the law empowers the police commissioner, based on police reports that the commissioner receives, to move ahead with a public nuisance action. The kinds of issues addressed through the public nuisance action are: prostitution, illegal adult entertainment, or illegal drugs. The police department will hold a hearing and make a determination on the seriousness of the findings and, in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Community Development, can initiate a public nuisance case against a particular property. These cases are brought in District Court and the evidentiary burden is “preponderance of the evidence” not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The court can order the establishment closed up to one year, if DHCD can prove its case. This year, there were 10 cases this year of properties that were padlocked under this process. Akras said that there is another section of the code that deals with neighborhood nuisances and unruly behavior which follows the same procedure.

Commissioner Trotter asked what would happen with a license if the establishment were closed for one year. Akras responded that the padlock law would not toll the 180-day rule in Art. 2B section 10-504(d), so it’s possible that the license could expire under that provision.

Comments: This presentation is illustrative of an issue that has plagued the BLLC (and other city and state agencies) for years: the agency spends an inordinate amount of time blaming other agencies for their inaction instead of spending time thinking about what they can do to carry out their mission.

Licensees Pedro Avalos & Ana Morejon
Business Name Tela Mares Restaurant, Inc.
Trading As Tela Mares Restaurant
Address 318 S. Broadway
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.05(a) and (b): Prohibited Hours – November 7, 2015 – At approximately 2:18 am Inspector John Chrissomallis responded to the establishment based on loud music complaint. Upon arrival, Inspector Chrissomallis was able to enter the establishment and observed approximately 20 customers inside the location, at least 10 of which were consuming alcoholic beverages ranging from beer to mixed drinks. Further investigation revealed the loud music complaint was invalid. Inspector Chrissomallis met with the licensee/manager and informed him of the prohibited hours violation.

Hearing notes

Mr. Paul Schuman proffered, for his client, that the business normally closes at 10pm. On this particular evening, the restaurant was rented for a private party and closed to the public. The manager did not realize that they had stayed open past the required closing time of 2:00am. It was an “honest mistake.” Inspector John Chrissomallis testified that he had responded to the restaurant for a noise complaint. When he arrived, the noise was not an issue, but they were open after 2:00am. Chrissomallis said that he had not responded to a complaint for Tela Mares in over a year. He said that they were cooperative and took full responsibility for the error.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Fells Point
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; no.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Paul Schuman
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1
Result of hearing Responsible. $250 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision Admission of responsibility.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Licensee Jae In Lee
Business Name New Chelsey Liquors, LLC
Trading As Chesley Liquors
Address 6902 Harford Road
Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Sales to Minors – December 10, 2015 – At approximately 9:34 PM Baltimore Police Department, the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office, and the BLLC conducted random, joint investigations of establishments to determine if licensees would sell alcoholic beverages to minors. The joint task force responded to the establishment and sent Baltimore City Sheriff volunteer Teshawn Dunn, who is under the age of 21, into the establishment to attempt to purchase an alcoholic beverage(s). At that time Ms. Dunn entered the establishment and asked to purchase a “Strawberry Rita.” Utilizing a departmental $20 bill, Ms. Dunn purchased the alcoholic beverage for $3.26. Ms. Dunn then communicated to the task force of the sale. Members of the task force 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 task force then recovered the marked currency and returned both the alcoholic beverage to the bartender and the change that was provided to Ms. Dunn.

Violation of Rule 3.03(c): Records – December 10, 2015 – At approximately 9:34 PM Baltimore Police Department, the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office, and the BLLC conducted random, joint investigations of establishments to determine if licensees would sell alcoholic beverages to minors. After the BLLC responded to the location, Agent Fosler asked for a copy of the employee records. No employee records could be provided to the BLLC at the time of the request.

Violation of Rule 4.18: Illegal Conduct – December 10, 2015 – At approximately 9:34 PM Baltimore Police Department, the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office, and the BLLC conducted random, joint investigations of establishments to determine if licensees would sell alcoholic beverages to minors. After the BLLC responded to the location, Agent Fosler asked to review a copy of the Trader’s License. The establishment could not provide Agent Fosler with a copy of an active Trader’s License.

Hearing notes

Mr. Gary Maslan represented the licensee and entered a “plea” of not responsible for the charges. He told the Board that the procedures that the sheriff’s department followed were “most bizarre” and that, “based on the unusual manner in which the investigation was conducted,” he thinks the Board should not hold the licensee responsible for selling alcohol to the underage volunteer.

Liquor Board inspector Mark Fosler testified that the store sold a 24-ounce can of beer to a female cadet. The young woman was photographed with the item she purchased and the alcohol was returned to the store. The inspectors and police, who were waiting outside, then found that the licensee did not have employee records or a valid trader’s license. Maslan asked Fosler whether he saw how the young woman was dressed. Fosler replied that he had seen her. Maslan asked whether she had a hood on over her head. Fosler replied that she did not, to his recollection.

Baltimore Sheriff’s Deputy McCorkle testified that she went in behind the cadet, who purchased the alcoholic beverage. McCorkle witnessed the entire incident, as her supervisor. She also testified that there was no hood over the woman’s head.

Baltimore Police Detective Abraham Gatto said that there was another member of the investigative team who may have been wearing a hoodie outside of the store, who never went inside. It was a cold night in December, so they were dressed warmly. Gatto said that the store clerk did lock the door immediately after the cadet and her supervisor left with the alcohol. When Gatto asked the clerk to unlock the door, he said to Gatto that he had been afraid that he was about to be robbed. Gatto said that usually when someone robs a store, they don’t buy a Straw-Ber-Rita first.

The clerk on duty at the time testified that he had been working in the industry for 40 years and had never been cited for a sale to a minor. On that date, the other employee did not show up, so his friend Jim came to the store to keep him company. He was on edge, because he had been robbed at the store the week before. He did not even remember the sale to the cadet, because he was so concerned about the person with the hoodie who was standing outside of the store. Contrary to Gatto’s statement, the clerk said that he was robbed as the person was pretending to make a purchase; the gun came out when the cash register opened.

With respect to the other charges, he did not have access to any employee records. The clerk said that the trader’s license was just out of date by a week or so.

Inspector Fosler testified that the trader’s license had expired in April 2015, and it is still expired.

Maslan concluded that this was a “most unusual case” in which a man had been in business for forty years and was legitimately in fear for his life.

In response, Chairman Neil said that he was “not unappreciative” of the man’s fear, but there was a technical violation of the law. Commissioner Trotter added that the Board has been very vocal about underage drinking. Commissioner Hafey agreed, saying that the trader’s license had been expired for more than eight months, which is not something that they should overlook.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood North Harford Road
Area demographics 40% White, 53% Black, 1% Asian, 2% 2 or more races; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 32% households have children under age 18; median household income: $51,208.29; 9% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 4
Result of hearing Responsible for all three violations. $1,200 fine (total).
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth noted that there is no previous violation history at this establishment. The license was transferred in 2013, and there were previous charges of underage sales in early 2014, but they were postponed and never rescheduled.

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

It is disturbing that the BLLC (under a previous set of commissioners) lost track of the prior underage drinking charges for this address.

Licensee Marianella Palomino
Business Name Feria, Inc.
Trading As Los Amigos Restaurant
Address 5505 Harford Road
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): Sales to Minors – December 10, 2015 – At approximately 8:45 PM Baltimore Police Department, the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office, and the BLLC conducted random, joint investigations of establishments to determine if licensees would sell alcoholic beverages to minors. The joint task force responded to the establishment and sent Baltimore City Sheriff volunteers Tyler White and Teshawn Dunn, who are both under the age of 21, into the establishment to attempt to purchase an alcoholic beverage(s). At that time the volunteers entered the establishment and asked for a “Budweiser and Heineken” to consume. The bartender/store clerk furnished the volunteers with bottles of “Budweiser and Heineken.” The volunteers then communicated to the task force of the sale. Members of the task force entered the establishment and attempted to notify the bartender/store clerk that an alcoholic beverage had just been sold to a minor and it would be reported to the BLLC. Before they could notify the bartender she ran out of the rear door of the establishment and could not be found. The task force was able to notify the licensee of the infraction.

Violation of Rule 3.03(c): Records – December 10, 2015 – At approximately 8:45 PM Baltimore Police Department, the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office, and the BLLC conducted random, joint investigations of establishments to determine if licensees would sell alcoholic beverages to minors. After the BLLC responded to the location, Agent Fosler asked for a copy of the employee records to identify the bartender/store clerk who sold the volunteers alcoholic beverages. No employee records could be provided to the BLLC at the time of the request.

Hearing notes

No one was present for this hearing. Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth noted that the attorney for this case, Mr. Paul Schuman, had been present earlier in the afternoon for a different case but had apparently left. The licensees did receive notice of the hearing.

Chairman Neil then asked whether the license should be seized or whether the Board should just postpone the case to another day. Inspector Fosler testified that the allegations were fairly worrisome: there were no employee records in the establishment, and the bartender ran out the exit door as soon as she saw the inspectors and police. The remaining employees refused to give the inspectors and police her name or any identifying information. Fosler said that someone who used to be affiliated with Playbook in Southeast Baltimore (which has a long violation history) came over to this location, and neighbors have been complaining ever since.

After a long discussion, the Board decided to postpone to the following week and not seize the license.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Glenham-Belhar
Area demographics 37% White, 56% Black, 1% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; median household income: $57,951.01; 5% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? N/A
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident N/A
Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 3
Result of hearing Postponed
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 agency does not have a stated policy for what it should do when a licensee does not appear before the Board (and, of course, does not make arrangements for a postponement or provide some kind of explanation). Perhaps this policy should go in the rules and regulations, so that the commissioners know what to do when it inevitably happens again.

Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: While the author makes every effort to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information on this blog, the accuracy of some information is subject to change and cannot be guaranteed. Neither the author nor the publisher is responsible for any errors or omissions. All information in this blog is provided “as-is,” with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness, or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied. This blog is not intended to do harm to, defame, libel, or malign any religious or ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or government entity. In no event will the author, her employer, or the publisher be liable to you or anyone else for any action taken in reliance on the information in this blog or for any consequential, special or similar damages incurred, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

The materials contained on this website have been prepared by Community Law Center, Inc. for informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

Copyright: Text, photos and other materials found on this website are the property of CLC, except where otherwise noted. Such materials may not be reproduced without CLC’s written prior consent.