Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on August 13, 2015.

Written by Kristine Dunkerton

Community Law Center’s Booze News blogger, Becky Lundberg-Witt, is out on vacation. Community Law Center is happy to have the original blogger for Booze News, Christina Schoppert Devereux, as our guest blogger.

Chairman Benjamin Neil, Harvey Jones, and an unidentified woman whose place did not display a name-plate sat for hearings. (After the hearing, CLC learned from Liquor Board staff that the new Commissioner is Elizabeth A. Hafey, and that she was sworn in on August 12, 2015. CLC has not been able to locate any public announcement of Ms. Hafey’s appointment.) In July 2015, Governor Hogan appointed Benjamin Neil as Chairman of the Board and Douglas Trotter as a Commissioner. The Baltimore City Liquor License Board website lists Benjamin Neil, Douglas Trotter, and Harvey E. Jones as the Chairman and Commissioners, respectively.

1:00pm
I. Expedited docket (On July 16, 2015, one week after being sworn in as Chair of the Liquor Board, Benjamin Neil issued an Administrative Decision, effective immediately, creating “a section for expedited items…[t]he purpose of [which] is to efficiently render decisions on non-controversial items before the Board. This portion of the docket will consist of applications for new licenses, transfer applications and license amendments.” According to the Administrative Decision, cases with objections will be placed on the regular docket.)

Applicant Bao Ying Lin
Business Name Yuan Zheng Company
Trading As Gilmor Tavern
Address 300 N. Gilmor Stree
Type of License A
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
Hearing notes The transferor and the transferee both appeared at the hearing. (Administrative Decision #2 of the previous Board, dated November 17, 2014 and effective January 15, 2015, required that one licensee be present at all hearings involving a license. Administrative Decision #5 of this Board, dated July 16, 2015 and effective immediately, provides that the transferor is not required to attend a transfer hearing involving his/her license.)A letter of support from a neighborhood resident, who had previously protested the transfer, was entered as Exhibit 1. The neighbor had met with the applicants and appeared at this hearing in favor of the transfer. A letter of support from the Franklin Square Community Association was entered as Exhibit 2.The applicant has no experience selling liquor, but is working with the current licensee to learn how the business works. She has managed a grocery store in the past.
Zoning R-8
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 Baltimore, MD
One applicant reside in Balt. for 2 yrs? Yes
Pecuniary interest of Baltimore City resident/taxpayer 100%
Attorney for licensee Jay S. Yoo
# in support ~5
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 None.

The next hearing on the expedited docket was postponed to August 27, 2015: C&R Pub at 1117 S. Charles Street, owned by 1117 S. Charles Street, LLC (applicants Martin Thomas Corboy and Brent Cleveland Sale). They were seeking transfer of ownership, live entertainment, and outdoor seating for a B license.

The only hearing on the regular docket was also postponed for a future date not set at the hearing: Langermanns on Light at 1542 Light Street, owned by 1542 Singh LLC (applicants Jaswinder Singh and Andre P. Butler). They were seeking reconsideration of Transfer of Ownership and Addition of Live Entertainment for a BD7 license.

II. Violations

Applicants Santos Alvarado, Irinia Gomez
Business Name Asadito’s Lounge, LLC
Trading As Asadito’s Lounge
Address 4701-03 Eastern Avenue
Type of License D
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.18 – Illegal Conduct (“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.”) and Violation of Rule 4.10(a) Relations with Wholesalers (“No licensee shall purchase alcoholic beverages except from a duly licensed manufacturer or wholesaler; nor shall any licensee sell to any other licensee any alcoholic beverages; and no licensee shall, at any time, keep or permit to be kept upon the licensed premises, any alcoholic beverages unless purchased in accordance with the Rule.”):“June 19, 2015 – At approximately 5:45 pm Baltimore City Policy Lieutenant William Coburn observed a Cadillac SUV parked in a tow away zone in front of Asadito’s Lounge. Lt. Coburn observed the rear hatch of the vehicle open and there were numerous cases of Heineken and Corona beer in the rear storage area. Coburn entered Asadito’s to investigate. Upon entering the establishment he made contact with Jose Lazaro Cabrera Del Cid who stated he was unloading beer from the vehicle into the bar. Lt. Coburn asked Mr. Del Cid where he obtained the alcohol from he stated ‘La Bamba’ and pointed toward ‘La Bamba’s’ location. Lt. Coburn obtained a list indicating that approximately 19 cases of beer were purchased from ‘La Bamba.’ Lt. Colburn then observed Mr. Del Cid remove all of the cases of beer from the vehicle and take them into Asadito’s Lounge for presumed sale as Asadito’s Lounge. On June 24, 2015 at approximately 11:00 a.m. Lt Coburn and Inspector John Chrissomallis responded to ‘La Bama’ and asked to view security footage from June 19, 2015 to determine if Mr. Del Cid did indeed obtain the alcoholic beverages from ‘La Bama.’ Both Lt. Coburn and Inspector Chrissomallis both observed ‘La Bamba’s’ security footage for June 19, 2015 and observed Mr. Del Cid enter the store at approximately 4:23 pm, load up a hand truck with multiple cases of beer and exit the location.”Violation of Rule 3.03 Records (“(a) Licensee shall keep accurate records of all purchases of alcoholic beverages for a period of one year from the date of each purchase. Such records shall include the date of each purchase, the quantity purchased, and the name and address of each seller. Such records shall be open to inspection at all time by duly authorized representatives of the Board.”):“June 24, 2015 – At approximately 6:00pm Inspector John Chrissomallis responded to the establishment to follow-up on a previous violation. At that time Inspector Chrissomallis began to conduct a routine inspection. During his inspection Chrissomallis asked the manager on duty, Juan Moreno, for distributor invoices for recently purchased alcoholic beverages. At that time Mr. Moreno could not produce them and stated that they were with another party. Inspector Chrissomallis stated he would leave and return at 8:30 pm and give Mr. Moreno an opportunity to find them. Inspector Chrissomallis returned at 8:30 pm, but still Mr. Moreno could not find the alcohol invoices.”
Hearing notes The inspector and police officer in attendance did not testify and the reading of violations was waived, as the file was admitted for the record. Mr. Kodenski told the Board that he had explained everything to the licensee, and he said that this was the licensee’s first time before the Board. The Board’s file, however, notes that the licensee was found guilty and fined $500 on June 28, 2012 for violation of Rule 4.18 (and that the fine was suspended).Mr. Kodenski asked that his client not be penalized for violation of both Rule 4.18 and Rule 4.10, as they are “virtually the same.”
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 City
One applicant reside in Balt for 2 yrs? Yes.
Attorney for licensee Mel Kodenski
# in support ~2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers One inspector, one police officer
Result of hearing Violation of Rule 4.18 and Violation of Rule 4.10 dismissed.
$500 fine for violation of Rule 3.03.
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 N/A
Applicant Lenny Sierra
Business Name Sierra, Inc.
Trading As Trio Lounge
Address 3907-09 E. Lombard Street
Type of License B
Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.10 (a) Relations with Wholesalers (“No licensee shall purchase alcoholic beverages except from a duly licensed manufacturer or wholesaler; nor shall any licensee sell to any other licensee any alcoholic beverages; and no licensee shall, at any time, keep or permit to be kept upon the licensed premises, any alcoholic beverages unless purchased in accordance with the Rule.”):“July 1, 2015 – At approximately 10:00 am, Agent Calvert with the Maryland State Comptroller’s Office, Field Enforcement Division, arrived at the establishment to conduct a retail alcohol inspection. At that time he met with the owner/licensee Lenny Sierra. Agent Calvert then asked Mr. Sierra to review all alcoholic beverages invoices of the establishment. Upon review of the records and a subsequent investigation Agent Calvert discovered that there were not proper invoices for approximately 116 12oz bottles of beer, which included the following brands: Miller Lite, Presidente, Bud Light, Budweiser, and Coors Light. Upon making this discovery, Agent Calvert inquired from Mr. Sierra where he obtained these 116 bottles and beer. Mr. Sierra told Agent Calvert he had purchased them from a liquor store on Route 40 because ‘his accounts with distributors had been closed due to financial difficulties.’”
Hearing notes The licensee admitted to the violation and the file was admitted for the record.Mr. Hurdle spoke to the Board about Mr. Sierra’s financial difficulties, and explained that his client purchased from a wholesaler and “he was caught.” Mr. Hurdle asked that the Board waive the administrative fee and reduce the fine to $125, explaining, “He [Mr. Sierra] has to pay me and whatever fine is on top of that.”
Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Baltimore Highlands
Area demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; No
Location of entity’s principal office Baltimore City
Attorney for licensee Abraham Hurdle
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police officers 1 – Agent Calvert of Maryland Comptroller’s Office
Result of hearing $250 fine, 30 days to pay
Portions of state law cited in decision Md Code Art. 2B Sect. 16-507(d) (the Board may impose a fine of not more than $500 for a first-offense violation)
Other reasons given for decision Mr. Neil explained that he cut the fine in half because of Mr. Sierra’s other financial obligations.
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed N/A

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