Board revokes liquor license

Outlet was cited 3 times for alcohol sales to minors

`A pattern of violations'

Person responsible for store does not live in the county


October 19, 2004|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A Howard County hearing board has decided to revoke the license of an Elkridge liquor store cited three times by police for selling alcohol to minors.

In its order to revoke the license of Meadowridge Wine and Spirits in the 6500 block Huntshire Drive, which was released yesterday, the county's Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board found "a pattern of violations over several years that demonstrate a failure to fill the responsibilities required of a licensee."

At the hearing Oct. 12, the board heard a statement of facts agreed to by both sides revealing that no one legally responsible for the store lives in Howard County, as required by law. Untrained clerks were also caught several times by county police officers selling alcohol to underage youths.

The store also did not display proper tax records, and the annual license renewal applications included false addresses for licensees, according to testimony by Detective Martin Johnson, a county liquor inspector.

Since June, the statement said, contract purchasers not on the liquor license operated the store.

"Because of these copious violations, I'm asking for something that is very rarely done. Consider revoking this license," Faith Adelman, senior assistant county solicitor, urged the board.

Ronald L. Spahn, the attorney for the store's legal owner, Dilvir Singh, pleaded with the board to allow his client to sell the place without losing his investment.

"This man has worked his tail off. I would not like to see him lose everything," Spahn said, suggesting that the board impose a "substantial fine" and a two- to four-week license suspension rather than revoke the liquor license.

Singh can appeal the hearing board's ruling to Howard's Liquor Board, made up of the five members of the County Council, which decides whether to hear the case. Neither Singh nor Spahn returned messages yesterday seeking comment on the hearing board's decision.

According to the statement of facts, a county police officer caught a 17-year-old youth with no identification emerging from the store with 13 containers of alcoholic beverages Feb. 20. The female clerk who made the sale had no training in spotting buyers under the legal drinking age of 21.

An inspection of the store by Johnson on Feb. 26 found no required federal tax stamp, no employee records and the information that Albert Robinson, the resident agent for the business, lives in North Carolina.

Johnson testified that license renewal applications for the past three years had false addresses on them for licensees, including one address that does not exist. Singh, who bought the place from Robinson, lives in Randallstown in Baltimore County.

On Sept. 9, county police Officer Robert Raush caught a 19-year-old who bought rum at the store and then gave it to a 17-year-old boy outside. Two days later, Officer Mark Heron caught another 17-year-old without identification buying alcohol there.

Spahn said Singh was in India in February and his sister--in-law was filling in. Singh signed an agreement to sell the business in June, and new operators - who were not on the liquor license - were running it during last month's incidents, Spahn said.

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