Liquor board reduces penalty for restaurateur

June 16, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

"Please," "thank you" and a hint of begging benefited a Carroll County restaurant owner Tuesday, leading the county liquor board to reduce its penalty for falsifying information on a license application.

Initially, members of the Board of License Commissioners voted to revoke David Goldberg's liquor license for Goucho's Mexican American Restaurant in Eldersburg because the owner does not live in Carroll County.

After pleas from Mr. Goldberg's attorney, members reconsidered and voted to offer him either a 30-day license suspension and $2,000 fine or a 90-day suspension in exchange for dropping his rights to appeal in Carroll County Circuit Court. Mr. Goldberg opted for the 90-day suspension.

"We are very appreciative of all the commission has done today," said Jeffrey Nesson, Mr. Goldberg's attorney. "They have allowed Goucho's to continue in business."

In fact, Mr. Goldberg of Owings Mills -- the sole licensee for the Carrolltown Center restaurant -- has not lived in the county since he applied for a liquor license in 1987, using his father's Hickory Lane address for all correspondence with the board.

"I am insulted that somebody would think they could take advantage of our county this way," said board member John P. Buchheister Jr. "He has been in violation since day one, and our board just happened to catch it."

State and Carroll County liquor laws require that at least one applicant reside in the county where the license has been issued. Revoking the license would have prevented Mr. Goldberg from applying for a Carroll County liquor license again, said county attorney Charles W. "Chuck" Thompson Jr.

"I implore the board to reconsider," Mr. Nesson said after board members gave their initial decision. "Please consider suspending the license, which would be in the best interests of my client."

To remedy the situation, Mr. Goldberg has created a corporation giving his father, Stanley A. Goldberg, a 10 percent interest in the company. His father will then become the resident licensee, Mr. Nesson said.

"We don't want to minimize the violation, we want to correct it," he told the board.

Liquor board investigators discovered the violation while following up on a telephone complaint that the restaurant had been selling alcohol to minors, said board administrator James Norvell.

Board members will continue investigating that complaint, he said.

"The board seeks compliance with all its regulations," Mr. Norvell said. "If a licensee does not comply, they may find themselves here in front of the board."

A board investigator found Mr. Goldberg's Highside Court address in Owings Mills through a Motor Vehicles Administration records search, Mr. Norvell said.

When the investigator visited the Hickory Lane address, Stanley Goldberg said his son had not lived there for some time.

Mr. Nesson, who initially denied his client was guilty, tried to use a Carroll County voter's registration card with the Hickory Lane address as proof of Mr. Goldberg's residency.

"I never changed my voting status," Mr. Goldberg admitted to the board later. "When I initially applied, I got some bad advice from various people that if I did have a voting address, [my residency] may not be an issue.

"They said if it was not legitimate, [my application] would be denied. I assumed I was in compliance."

In other action Tuesday, board members approved a Class B Beer, Wine and Liquor license for Brian's Pizza Inc., a new corporation formed to obtain a liquor license for the Taneytown Pizza Hut.

Brian Roche, president of Brian's Pizza and an area manager for Pizza Hut of Maryland, said the restaurant will begin serving beer and wine after receiving dispensing equipment within the next month.

Pizza Hut's franchise agreement prohibits restaurants from selling liquor, he said.

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