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Police Complaints About Underage Drinking Force Closing Of “The Stone Lounge”

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This information was provided by the New York State Liquor Authority:

Albany, NY – The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) summarily suspended the license of Mario Enterprises Inc., doing business as “The Stone Lounge” at 128 South Main Street in Cortland today (Tuesday). The suspension was ordered by Chairman Vincent Bradley and Commissioner Greeley Ford at a meeting of the Full Board on November 21. Effective immediately, no alcohol may be sold or consumed on the premises.

111 Alleged Sales to Minors
On November 10 and 16, 2017, the SLA received referrals from the Cortland Police Department (CPD) detailing rampant underage drinking at the Stone Lounge dating back to September 1, including 111 documented alleged sales to minors. According to the CPD, the Stone Lounge’s standard operating procedure involved allowing entry to any patron presenting an ID that would scan, regardless of whether the document bore any resemblance to the person presenting the identification.

Undercover and Underage
On October 21, the CPD conducted an undercover operation using three underage agents. The police provided the agents with false identifications confiscated from previous operations, identifications that did not resemble the underage agents, including different eye colors and heights. While one agent was denied entry because the ID failed to scan, two agents were allowed entry and served alcohol using the patently fake IDs.

During an inspection on October 27, officers from the CPD observed three individuals appearing to be under 21 consuming alcohol at the Stone Lounge. Officers interviewed the individuals who asserted they were not required to show ID as they were employed at the bar and over 21. The three individuals were arrested after further investigation revealed all three were in fact under 21, one of whom was employed by the licensee as a bartender.

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Bar Becomes Police Focal Point
On November 17, 2017, the SLA charged the Stone Lounge with 114 violations, including 111 illegal sales to minors, for failure to supervise the premise, for creating a sustained pattern of disorder, and for becoming a focal point for police attention. Of the 111 minors arrested by the CPD at the Stone Lounge from September 1st to October 27, 75 were arrested for unlawful possession of an alcoholic beverage, 17 for possession of a forged or fictitious license and 19 were arrested for both violations, including one that was just 16 years old.

“While ID scanners can be a valuable tool for compliance, they only work for licensees interested in following the law,” said Counsel to the Authority Christopher R. Riano. “The Stone Lounge’s specious ID policy was simply a smokescreen, feigning compliance in a failed attempt to deceive law enforcement. The SLA sent a clear message today that bar owners that place making a profit above public health and safety will lose the privilege of holding a liquor license.”

How A Liquor License Suspension Works
The State Administrative Procedure Act authorizes a State agency to summarily suspend a license when the agency finds that public health, safety, or welfare requires emergency action. When the SLA summarily suspends a license, it also serves a Notice of Pleading alleging one or more disciplinary violations. In invoking a summary suspension, the SLA has deemed the violation to be sufficiently serious upon initial review to warrant an immediate suspension. The SLA’s decision to summarily suspend a license is not a final determination on the merits of the case. The licensee is entitled to an expedited administrative law hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. An order of summary suspension remains in effect until such time as it is modified by the SLA or a reviewing Court.

Link: Read the SLA report


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