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Bar loses liquor license A.L. Gators cited for serving minors


A headline in Thursday's Anne Arundel County Sun incorrectly stated the sanctions against A. L Gators, a Pasadena bar, imposed by the county Liquor Board. The bar's license was suspended for 10 days, although the suspension has not yet taken effect.

County officials lifted the liquor license of a well-known Pasadena bar for 10 days Tuesday night and fined the owners $3,000 on 30 charges of selling alcohol to minors earlier this year.

The county Liquor Board also wrote letters of reprimand against the owner of A. L. Gators, Vincent Valentine, for complaints filed by county police of noise, sanitation and drinking in the parking ,, lot. The board dropped one charge of selling to a minor.

Although the bar was cited with 31 violations, officers only charged 19 minors on civil citations with underage drinking. According to police, reports of underage drinking, rowdiness and fights prompted officers to work an undercover operation two weekends in March and one in April inside the bar in the 8500 block of Fort Smallwood Road.

Clarke F. Ahlers, Mr. Valentine's attorney, questioned the fairness of the hearing. He said many of the underage drinkers subpoenaed to testify refused, citing the Fifth Amendment.

"We had subpoenaed them as defense witnesses," Mr. Ahlers said. "And we couldn't ask the basic questions of them."

According to police reports and testimony during the hearing, most of the underage patrons got into the bar by either slipping past bouncers at the door carding people, walking in through an unmanned back door or giving bouncers false identification.

"I just walked through the front door," said Allen Griffith, 21, of Pasadena, who was underage when police caught him at the bar. "I showed no identification."

Mr. Ahlers said many of the teen-agers could be lying to police about how they got inside the bar to avoid criminal charges of carrying false identification.

Bar employees said every patron is asked for identification at the front door.

"Ninety-five percent of the time I am at the door," said Martin Ryan, the door manager. "I've turned away thousands of people since I started working there. We have a very good establishment. If somebody doesn't have an ID, we just don't let them in the club, we don't take that chance."

County police Lt. Robert Barlow said he never saw anyone from the bar monitor the parking lot while he was working surveillance.

"We saw 20 people urinating on the lot and some on cars," he said. "And there were several people entering and leaving the establishment through the back door."

Mr. Valentine said the back door is a fire door and had been broken. He said he did not realize the door was broken until the police told him about it. The door has since been fixed.

Since the charges were made, Mr. Valentine said, he has fired two security people and instituted regular patrols of the parking lot. While his bouncers can and have asked people they see urinating or drinking on the lot to leave, he said, that's all they can do.

"We can't physically move or touch these people. We can't be liable for that," he said, noting he has posted "no loitering" signs on the building. "If there are problems, we call the police. I can tell you there is enough police concentration in the parking lot; every 10 minutes a car pulls in."

Barbara Kunkel, the bar manager, asked for help from the police in solving the problems.

"Why should our security guys watch the parking lot when there are so many cops in the parking lot watching?" she asked. "Why can't the cops help with the problems?"

Paul Cornblatt, who manages the bar's security, said he has been told by police to stay inside the bar and not try to handle problems in the parking lot.

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