Liquor board levies $8,000 in penalties

Posted March 6, 2009 - The Harford County Liquor Control Board handed out $8,000 in fines to local liquor establishments for serving alcohol to an underage police cadet during an undercover sting operation.

The board held hearings for seven restaurants and stores at its meeting Wednesday, unanimously determining violations had occurred at all seven liquor licensed operations.

The compliance test with the underage Maryland State Police cadet took place Jan. 9, 2009

For Pizza Hut in Forest Hill, licensees Cynthia Graham and Mark Decker were fined $1,000.

Since the incident, Decker said the establishment will no longer take vertical licenses and will require all employees to be TIPS certified; TIPS is a training program for people who serve alcohol.

He said he will also award a $250 bonus to servers who don’t serve the cadet.

Licensee Carol Fortunato for Enotria Restaurant & Grill in Forest Hill was fined $2,000 for serving an underage cadet.

This is the third time Enotria has served an underage cadet in the last five years.

The liquor license for Price’s Crab House in Havre de Grace is less than a year old and licensee Mark Hasenei was slammed with a $1,000 fine for serving to an underage cadet.

Hasenei has had liquor licenses in Baltimore and Cecil counties for more than 20 years and said he has never had a violation.

“I take this very seriously,” he said. “Why you can’t understand that vertical means no is unbelievable to me.”

Hasenei said the server who served the underage cadet told him she did not know a vertical license meant the customer was underage.

“I can’t fix stupid,” he said.

Seventeen years after being issued a liquor license, the Golden Szechuan Inn in Bel Air received its first violation when it sold to the underage cadet.

The licensees Song Phong and Lang Phong were fined $500 for the violation.

After selling to a cadet in 2006, the Greek Village Restaurant in Bel Air repeated the violation in January when the nephew of one of the licensees sold to an underage cadet.

Licensees Nick Orfanidis and Pete Orfanidis were fined $1,500.

At Herb’s on the Curb in Havre de Grace, one of the licensees, Joseph Cullum, was caught serving alcohol to the cadet and was fined $1,000 for the violation.

Cullum’s wife, Janet, who is the other licensee, said she was totally shocked this happened.

She said her husband was so upset with himself that he didn’t want to continue with the business.

“There is no excuse,” she said. “He has suffered with his own stupidity over this.”

A similar situation occurred at the 7-Eleven in Bel Air, where the wife of licensee Amit Patel was caught selling alcohol to the underage cadet. Patel was fined $1,000 for the violation.

He said the 7-Eleven makes about 68,000 alcohol sales a year and the location of the store is a prime area for fake licenses.

The board also issued a decision on a show cause hearing for C.R. Wings in Bel Air that was held last week.

The board unanimously voted that a violation occurred when the clerk sold alcohol to underage customer using a fake license. Licensee Allan McCracken was fined $1,500.

In other business, the board received an update from Sawyer’s Chat N’ Chew in Havre de Grace. The establishment has been closed for more than a year and is continuing to work with a broker for affordable financing for an overhaul of the restaurant. The board unanimously decided to let the establishment’s liquor license run out on its own in May.

The board also approved permission for retail deliveries for Smitty’s Fine Wine & Spirits with the stipulation the licensees pay their outstanding fee to the liquor board by today’s (Friday) due date.

The board approved service of alcohol for outside events for the Bayou Restaurant in Havre de Grace for the Madison Mitchell Dinner on March 13, the Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps Dinner on March 14 and the Ducks Unlimited Dinner on April 18.

The board also approved one-day beer and wine licenses for the Maryland Conservatory of Music, Inc. on March 6 and the Joppa Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. for March 21.

A one-day beer, wine and liquor license was approved for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, Inc. for March 6.