Ten recent decisions by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (“ABCC” or “Commission”) were published in early June.
One “automatic amusement device” case was brought against a licensee, the Knights of Columbus lodge in Wakefield, for permitting gambling on its premises in violation of 204 CMR 2.05(2). Two machines located in a room near the entrance were determined by investigators to be gambling devices. The manager reported that the lodge had arranged a 50-50 proceeds split with the owner of the machines. The licensee was ordered to have the devices removed immediately and the Commission suspended the license for ten days, with five days to be served and five days to be held in abeyance for two years, provided that no further violations occur.
Two cases involved restaurant licensees charged with purchasing alcoholic beverages from package stores (rather than from wholesalers, importers or manufacturers). Whaleback Restaurant (Bourne) and Combination Improvement Club (Methuen) each stipulated to allegations of sales of alcoholic beverages purchased from a §15 package store, in violation of M.G.L. c. 138 § 23. Evidence of the transgressions included admissions from the licensee, package store stickers on bottles and evidence of glue-like substances in the shape of a retail price sticker. Because the licensees had been in business for lengthy periods of time (10 years and more than 50 years, respectively) without a record of previous violations, the Commission issued each a warning.
Five “sale to minor decisions” were published, with four of the five cases involving “sting operations,” in which ABCC Investigators utilized underage operatives to attempt to purchase alcohol on licensed premises:
Licensees Sinnis Pub (Dudley) and Kwik Stop (Dudley) each stipulated to allegations of making a sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 years of age after an underage operative working with ABCC investigators purchased alcohol without being asked for identification. Because each licensee had been in business for ten years with no previous violations, the Commission issued each a warning. Similarly, licensee Vorelli’s (Provincetown) was determined to have permitted the sale or delivery of an alcoholic beverage to a minor when an underage operative was in possession of an alcoholic beverage on its premises and was not asked for identification. Because the licensee had been in business for more than thirty-five years with no previous violations, the Commission issued a warning. Nor’east Beer Garden (Provincetown) also stipulated to a sale or delivery to an underage person after failing to request ID from an operative; a three day suspension was issued, to be held in abeyance for two years, provided that no further violations occur.
Bay State Wine & Spirits (Canton) was also investigated for alleged sales or deliveries of alcoholic beverages to underage individuals, partially in response to information provided to the ABCC by the Canton Police Department. During a span of thirty minutes on an evening in October 2013, Investigators recorded two sales to underage individuals using a fraudulent ID (neither individual working with ABCC investigators) on the premises. Subsequent to the incidents, the licensee made efforts to institute additional employee training and to confiscate fraudulent identification. The Commission suspended the license for five days, with the suspension to be held in abeyance for two years provided that no further violations occur.
Acting on an anonymous complaint filed with the Commission, ABCC Investigators reported a violation of M.G.L. c. 94 § 186 at The End Zone Sports Pub (Mendon) for falling below standards of purity. Investigators reported finding twelve alcoholic beverage bottles that contained foreign matter (fruit flies). Because the licensee had been in business for 10 years with no previous violations, the Commission issued a warning.
Finally, the license of the Hillside Country Club (Rehoboth) had previously been indefinitely suspended for violations of M.G.L. 151A §§ 14 and 15 (regarding payroll taxes). Based on evidence introduced at a hearing in November 2013 that demonstrated the licensee’s good standing with the state and with wholesalers, the indefinite suspension was reversed to a suspension of time served (from January 17, 2013 to October 5, 2013).