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KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Board of License Commissioners

July 27, 2004

The Honorable Board of License Commissioners met today with the following present: Roy W. Crow, Scott D. Livie, and William W. Pickrum, presiding.

Mauritz Stetson, Alcoholic Inspector, was also in attendance.


VIOLATION
SUPER SODA CENTER


An Administrative Hearing was held at 9:30 a.m. in the Commissioners' Hearing Room. Nelish V. Desai, President, Chestertown Group, LLC, Licensee, Sandip Shah, Manager of Super Soda, Maple Avenue, Chestertown, and Thomas Yeager, County Attorney, were also in attendance.

Messrs. Stetson, Desai, and Shah were sworn in by Mr. Yeager for giving testimony.

Mr. Yeager stated that the hearing was for two alleged violations which took place at Super Soda Center, and read the alleged violations into the record.

Mr. Stetson began his testimony by stating that on June 25, 2004 at 4:30 p.m., he entered Super Soda Center in order to conduct a routine alcoholic and tobacco inspection and, based on observations and questioning two female employees, one of whom was Kalpna Shah (Sandip Shah's wife), and concluded that there was probable cause for the violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Article 2B, Section 13-101 (2) (i) of the Annotated Code of Maryland (failure to have an individual certified in Alcoholic Beverage Awareness Training on the premises during the hours in which alcoholic beverages may be served or consumed, or no certified employee properly logged out).

Mr. Stetson reported that he, on the day of the alleged violation, requested of Mrs. Shah the log-out book, about which she indicated that she had no knowledge, and inquired as to the reason why there was no certified employee on the premises.

Mr. Stetson explained to Mrs. Shah that she would have to suspend the sale of alcoholic beverages at Super Soda Center until a certified employee was present. He indicated his belief that Mrs. Shah contacted her husband by phone. He arrived at the store shortly thereafter and was instructed by Mr. Stetson about the necessity of the log-out book. He then explained to Mr. Shah that he would report the alleged violation to the Commissioners

Mr. Stetson then reviewed the circumstances of what he believed to be probable cause for the violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Article 2B, Section 13-101 (2) (i) of the Annotated Code of Maryland (failure to have an individual certified in Alcoholic Beverage Awareness Training on the premises during the hours in which alcoholic beverages may be served or consumed, or no certified employee properly logged out) at Super Soda Center which took place on July 8.

According to Mr. Stetson, he arrived at Super Soda Center in order to deliver notice of a hearing for an alleged violation that took place on June 25 and a letter notifying the Licensee of an alleged violation of the tobacco laws, and, again, observed the same two employees, neither of whom were certified. This time, Mrs. Shah produced the log-out book which indicated that no certified employee had logged-out. Reviewing the log-out book, Mr. Stetson noticed that the certified employee had previously logged-out for three to five hours at a time; the Alcoholic Beverage Laws permit the absence of a logged-out certified employee in an emergency situation for a maximum of two hours.

Mr. Stetson explained to Mrs. Shah that she would have to suspend any alcohol sales until someone arrived who was properly trained and certified. Mrs. Shah telephoned her husband who arrived shortly thereafter. Mr. Stetson then explained the purpose of the two letters he had delivered: the hearing for an Alcoholic Beverage Laws violation and the letter indicating the violation of Tobacco Laws, i.e. sale to a person under eighteen years of age.

Mr. Stetson also pointed out that Mr. Shah had failed to log-out for his absence on that day, and that on the days he had logged-out, Mr. Shah was absent in excess of the legally allotted amount of time. According to Mr. Stetson, Mrs. Shah at first denied selling any tobacco to anyone under the age of eighteen; however, when he explained that he had observed the "undercover" young person enter the store and exit with a pack of cigarettes, Mrs. Shah admitted that she may have made a mistake and in fact conducted the sale.


Mr. Stetson reported that he explained to Mr. Shah and the other employees that he would be reporting the alleged violation to the Commissioners.

Mr. Desai presented his testimony by indicating that all of the certified individuals which he did employ had recently quit, and that he and Mr. Shah were in the process of scheduling newly-hired employees to Alcoholic Beverage Awareness classes in order that the new employees would become certified. According to Mr. Desai, Mr. Shah has had to conduct business errands requiring his absence from the premises given the shortage of staff, albeit uncertified.

Mr. Stetson, responding to Commissioner Livie's question, indicated that Super Soda Center was found to be in violation of Alcoholic Beverage Laws previously, i.e. Article 2B, Section 12-108, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, service to a person under the age of twenty-one, that took place on February 20, 2004.

The alleged violations being heard, if proven, would represent the first and second violations of Alcoholic Beverage Laws specific to the failure to have a certified employee on the premises and a certified employee properly logged-out.

Mr. Yeager, for clarification, reported that the hearing was for two alleged separate, first offences, and that a $100.00 fine would be the maximum penalty for each alleged violation.

There being no further testimony, the Commissioners recessed with Counsel in order to deliberate at 9:45 a..m.

At 9:50 a.m., the hearing resumed, and Commissioner Pickrum proceeded to provide the disposition of the Board of License Commissioners as follows: that they found Super Soda Center responsible for two violations of Alcoholic Beverage Laws Article 2B, Section 13-101 (2) (i) of the Annotated Code of Maryland (failure to have an individual certified in Alcoholic Beverage Awareness Training on the premises during the hours in which alcoholic beverages may be served or consumed, or no certified employee properly logged out), and that Super Soda Center would receive the maximum penalty of a $100.00 fine for a first offence.

Mr. Yeager noted that because both offences were heard at the same time, the penalty imposed would be based solely on the first offence.

Commissioner Livie stated that the members of the Board were concerned that for a relatively new business (i.e. of approximately 5 to 6 months), Super Soda Center was not conducting its business well with respect to the laws that govern it. He cautioned Messrs. Desai and Shah that if Super Soda Center commits another violation of Alcoholic Beverage and/or Tobacco Laws, the Board would have no other recourse than to impose a much more severe penalty.

This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 9:53 a.m.


SPECIAL LICENSE

The Commissioners approved the following one-day-only, Class C Licenses:

- Beer and Wine License for the Republican Women's Club of Kent and Queen Anne's Counties for their fund-raising activity to take place on September 18, 2004 at Wilmer Park, Chestertown;

- Beer License for the Party on the Bay Committee for their fund-raising activity to take place at the Bayside Landing and Park in Rock Hall on August 21, 2004;

- Beer, Wine, and Liquor License for the Chestertown Fire Company Auxiliary for its class reunion to take place on July 31, 2004 at the Chestertown Fire House;

- Beer License for St. John's Roman Catholic Church for its fund-raising activity to take place at the church, Main Street, Rock Hall, on August 15, 2004.


There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, August 3, 2004.


THE BOARD OF LICENSE COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND

Janice F. Fletcher
Executive Assistant


Approved: William W. Pickrum, President

Please contact Ileana Lindstrom or Janice Fletcher at (410) 778-7435 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.

 

 




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