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Coakley's in Havre de Grace fined for 'disturbing the peace'

Dining and DrinkingBars and ClubsMardi GrasSt. Patrick's Day

Coakley's Pub in Havre de Grace was fined $1,000 by the Harford County Liquor Control Board for disturbing the peace after police said a group of drunk, rowdy and loud visitors was allowed to take over the pub on April 21.

Ofc. Chad Smith and Detective J. Cokewell, of the Havre de Grace Police Department, told the liquor board during a show-cause hearing Wednesday they responded to people being rowdy outside the pub that night when someone told them, "You guys need to get inside."

Cokewell said a patron outside said: "You all need to get in here; it's about to get stupid."

Once inside, they noticed "numerous intoxicated" people who were yelling, screaming or even falling down. Some people had advised beer bottles had been thrown.

Cokewell also said Margaret Coakley, who was there that night, appeared to be intoxicated, with eyes glazed.

"We shut down the bar, cleared out the business," Smith said. "Obviously the entire business was a mess, there were broken beer bottles, trash, thrown throughout the building."

No one was injured and everyone was "sent on their way," they noted.

Margaret Coakley was also accused of failing to cooperate with police officers.

The liquor board dismissed that charge after police said she did cooperate with them, although chairwoman Sandi Tunney said Coakley did not seem concerned about why her business was being shut down.

Smith added: "We previously have come in to similar situations on other nights. I can't say that they have been documented."

Margaret Coakley, who attended to the liquor board meeting with Dwayne Coakley, vehemently denied all the accusations and disputed the whole report.

She said she had been at the pub since 6:30 a.m. to prepare for events all day, and had had "a couple of glasses of wine" during a birthday dinner at Bulle Rock.

She was hosting a 1980s party at the pub that night, with "a great crowd," when some unknown people showed up.

Coakley pointed out that no fight occurred and nothing got out of hand. She and another employee immediately threw three people out of the bar when they looked like they were about to cause problems.

"Coakley's Pub has been in business for 17 years. It's like my baby," she said. "I got right in the middle of this crowd that was swaying. I said, 'Absolutely not. You are not doing this here,' and I personally led three people out of the pub."

"There was no fight. There was not one punch thrown," she said, adding that no sobriety tests were performed and she was tired from a long day, not drunk.

"Not one person was arrested that night. Not one incident report was done," she said.

Tunney said the last statement was not true, as police did have an incident report.

Coakley said it was also "totally not true" that beer bottles were thrown around, calling the night relatively tame compared to events like St. Patrick's Day and Mardi Gras.

"By our standards, this was actually a very slow night," she said.

She also explained she was not concerned about the pub being shut down because it was almost closing time and it would not have made sense to try to re-open it that late.

Dwayne Coakley, who was not at the pub that evening, said the business wants to cooperate with authorities and takes nuisance issues seriously.

"We don't want to have an adversarial relationship with the police department or liquor board or anybody," he said.

In reference to the events of that April evening, he said: "If it's a small, little argument like this, we will push them outside. If there's a problem outside, we will call the police."

In this case, he said, "it was prevented by us doing the right thing and Havre de Grace police doing the right thing."

Commissioner Thomas Fidler Jr. said he was mostly concerned about where the individuals who were reportedly falling over had come from, as well as the possibility that the pub owner had been drinking earlier herself.

"I really don't care what you did all day," he told Coakley about her claim of being tired.

Commissioner Michael Thomson cast the dissenting vote, saying the situation seemed to have been nipped in the bud.

"I think it may have been to the licensees' benefit that the police department showed up. I don't think they were actually given an opportunity to allow the situation to develop. I think whether or not that would have [happened] becomes conjecture at this point," he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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