State Del. Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick and his family have quit the tavern business after 20 years, selling their liquor license shortly before the lawmaker's brother faces trial on gambling charges in connection with video machine payouts at the Dundalk establishment.
Records show that the Minnick's Restaurant liquor license was transferred last month to new owners, two of whom also have Baltimore County political connections and own another Dundalk restaurant.
The Democratic delegate's older brother, Daniel Minnick, 86, faces six charges in a case scheduled for trial Monday in Baltimore County District Court. He, a bartender and two customers face misdemeanor charges for making or receiving cash payouts on video game machines.
Police raided the place in June, confiscating five machines and nearly $1,000 cash They were acting on an anonymous complaint called in to the county Board of Liquor License Commissioners in May.
The District 6 lawmaker was not charged, although the bartender, Diana M. Anthony, told a county police detective that he knew about the cash payouts. According to court documents, the detective said "both Daniel and Sonny have told her to be careful who she pays out to and to only pay known customers."
Anthony, who worked there since 2004, also told the police the restaurant made cash payoffs six to eight times a day, court documents say.
Anthony, 58, of Dundalk, faces one charge of maintaining a slot machine. Also charged in the case are John E. Wiessner, 60, of Baltimore City, who faces one count, and Richard G. Bell, 66, of Dundalk, who had two charges brought against him.
Joseph Minnick, 78, who has served in the legislature for nearly 20 years, has insisted in the past that the video machines at his restaurant did not make cash payments. He has taken issue with Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot's attempts to crack down on the practice across the state.
The license transfer was approved by the county liquor board in November. No purchase price is shown in documents filed with the board. One of the three new owners, Kenneth E. Crizer, declined to comment on that.
The new owners will lease the restaurant at 7100 Sollers Point Road under a 15-year agreement, according to a liquor board record. A state property record lists Joseph and Daniel Minnick as the owners of the building, valued last year at $460,300.
Neither of the Minnick brothers could be reached for comment on why they decided to sell the business now. Crizer said, "I think Dan just wanted to retire. He's getting up there in age."
Crizer said the new owners plan to change the name of the place and remake it into an Irish bar, but continue to accommodate banquets and other events. He said the menu would be expanded, but said he could not go into great detail about the plans.
The owners have not applied for a license for new video game machines, said Ellen Kobler, a county government spokeswoman.
Crizer holds 49 percent of the Minnicks' partnership. Kenneth Byers of Edgemere holds 1 percent and Alexandra van Dommelen of Dundalk holds 50 percent. Crizer's brother, Edward W. Crizer Jr., is a member of the county Board of Appeals. Van Dommelen's father, Lionel van Dommelen, is chief of county code inspection and enforcement.
In March, Kenneth Crizer and Alexandra van Dommelen bought the Seahorse Inn on Wise Avenue from Edward Crizer and Lionel van Dommelen, who had owned the place since 2000.
Records show that the Minnick brothers bought the liquor license in 1992 along with Barbara Jean Minnick, Joseph's wife, and Eleanor G. Minnick.