xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Five Harford establishment found guilty of serving alcohol to a minor during Wednesday's liquor board hearings

Five Harford County establishments were found in violation for having served alcohol to a minor — and one American Legion Post also was found guilty of serving to a non-member — and fined during Harford County Liquor Control Board hearings Wednesday.

All five failed a July 23 compliance test when they served underage liquor board employee Samantha Rollins an alcoholic beverage. All of the licensees present took responsibility for the failed tests.

Advertisement

Licensee Keith Davis, of Mountain Branch Golf Club at 1827 Mountain Road in Joppa, and his lawyer were present for the hearing.

Liquor Control Board Chief Inspector Charlie Robbins said DFC Anthony Isgro and Rollins ordered a soda and beer, respectively, at the club. The server asked to see Rollins' identification, who then gave it to the server. She later came back with the drinks ordered, even though Rollins' valid Maryland driver's license is vertical and showed that she is younger than 21.

Advertisement
Advertisement

"We make no excuses for our actions," Carter said. She added that two weeks before the violation employees took a course on the proper policies of serving alcohol. The server was fired before the end of her shift.

"We don't tolerate it," Carter said, referring to serving alcohol to minors.

Chairman Donald Hess asked if the server had "any rational reason" as to why she served alcohol after viewing the license. Davis responded, "Her answer was 'I wasn't paying attention.'" He added that the former employee had no other reason to believe she would make the mistake, as she was never problematic.

Carter told the board that Mountain Branch intends to hire people to do underage compliance tests at the club, similar to a secret shopper. If an ID isn't requested or the person is still served after seeing the ID, the employee will be fired, she said.

Hess told Davis and Carter that he thought the "self-policing is a good idea."

Mountain Branch was later found guilty and fined $1,000.

Lawyer Sara Arthur spoke on behalf of Nitin Patel and Lydia Hoory, the licensees of Hilton Garden Inn at 1050 Beards Hill Road in Aberdeen.

Robbins testified that he had previously reserved a room at the hotel to conduct the room service compliance test, the first the liquor board has done. Rollins ordered the drinks over the phone and wasn't asked to verify her age after ordering. Isgro stayed in the bathroom when the drinks arrived so Rollins was the only one in the room when the drinks arrived. The employee who delivered the drinks also did not ask to see ID, nor did he ask if anyone else was present to receive the order.

Arthur told the board the employee was fired immediately, who later told the hotel staff that he knew Rollins and "thought he was doing her a favor." The server had previously been found using a fake ID and the hotel found these reasons enough to terminate his employment.

Arthur went on to say that the hotel's servers are now TAM (techniques of alcohol management) certified. The hotel has also discontinued room service for alcohol and guests have to come to the bar to order, unless a person books an event, such as a wedding or party, and also reserves a room.

Arthur gave the board copies of the hotels alcohol service policy that the employees had received. Before the violation, the policy only included checking ID at the bar and included nothing about room service.

"What this has shown is that there was a significant flaw" in the hotel's policy, she said.

Hilton Garden Inn was found in violation of serving alcohol to a minor and was fined $1,000

Rollins' ID also was not requested during a compliance test at the Wetlands Golf Club at 740 Gilbert Road in Aberdeen, Robbins testified.

Samuel Smedley, the licensee, told the board that there were "unusual circumstances" that day, saying it was hottest day of the year and he had closed most of the club down and sent most of the employees home by the time Robbins, Isgro and Rollins arrived.

Smedley asked the server to answer calls at the golf shop and the grill earlier that day and believes the reason why she forgot to ask for Rollins' ID was because she was overwhelmed by the extra duties.

"She's a good girl and made a mistake," Smedley said. The club has had no prior violations. "It was one of those unfortunate situations and we apologize."

The club was found guilty and fined $1,000.

Half Pints Sports Pub and Grill at 1204 E Agora Drive in Bel Air had a previous violation of serving alcohol to a minor on Sept. 22, 2010 and was fined $1,000 for that incident.

Robbins testified that Kim McMillan, the bartender manager on duty and who was present during the hearing, did not ask for Rollins' ID and served the two.

"Needless to say I'm very, very disappointed," said licensee Nicholas Molyneux. He added that McMillan had been bartending for more than 15 years and the establishment's policy is to not serve alcohol to anyone with a vertical ID.

McMillan told the board she had never received a violation before.

"Unfortunately, I made a bad call," she said.

Half Pints was found in violation of serving alcohol to a minor and, taking into consideration its previous violation in 2010, was fined $2,000.

American Legion Post 47 at 501 St. John St. in Havre de Grace was charged with serving alcohol to a minor, as well as to a non-member.

Isgro and Rollins were buzzed into the building, Robbins testified, when the bartender asked if the two were members. When they responded "no," she requested that they sign the guest book before ordering. After entering their names into the book, Rollins and Isgro ordered the beer and soda. The bartender asked to see Rollins' ID, but served her anyway despite observing the vertical license.

Timothy Zeigler, the post's commander at the time of the violation and licensee, said, "There's no explanation for it."

He went on to say the bartender is TAM certified and the incident is very "out of character" for her.

Zeigler added that those served at the post have to be signed in as a guest and with their sponsor the entire time. The member even has to pay for the beverage, but the bartenders weren't aware of this policy, he said.

"The shortcoming was properly educating bartenders about these policies," he added. Ziegler also told the board that they've taken actions to prevent any further violations, including putting up a fence so members and their guests have to come through the building before accessing the deck in the back. A card reader was also installed.

Post 47 was found guilty on both counts and fined $250 for each.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement