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With fee paid, Carlin’s liquor license remains intact

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

AYER – With the payment of a fine, the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) has agreed to set aside its earlier 5-day liquor license suspension against Carlin’s Tavern (legally incorporated as Carlin’s Restaurant, Inc.) at Depot Square in Ayer.

Formal word of the compromise came on March 13 – more than a month after the ABCC issued its February suspension notice.

In her March 13 letter, ABCC Commission Chairman Kim Gainsboro wrote that the ABCC “has accepted your Offer in Compromise In Lieu of Suspension in the amount of $1,872.05.” As a result, “the Notice of Suspension for a period of (5) days is reconsidered and compromised by this fine. The notice of license suspension is rescinded.”

The ABCC indicated in its Feb. 8 letter that it was suspending Carlin’s liquor license from Wednesday, March 21 through Sunday, March 25, 2012. Carlin’s was directed to deliver its license over to the ‘Local Licensing Board’ — the Ayer Board of Selectmen – which would hold the license during the suspension.

Carlin was warned of its alternatives.

The first route was to broker a compromise fine with the commission by Feb. 29. On March 4, ABCC Administrative Assistant Lisa Gordon indicated that Carlin’s had failed to contact the commission to attempt that approach by the end of February.

On March 21, Nashoba Publishing left a message with ABCC Executive Director Ralph Sacramone as this story prepares for print publication on Friday, March 23.

The second alternative would have been for Carlin’s to appeal the suspension to Superior Court within 30 days of receipt of the notice. Tavern owner David Berry did not respond to a request for comment.

THE CHARGES

The Carlin’s case was heard by the commission on Feb. 7. The charges were that a Carlin’s bartender allegedly over-served an already intoxicated 28-year old male patron last Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2011. The event was allegedly witnessed by an ABCC investigator who was performing a spot-check on the tavern following a prior infraction.

The investigator said the patron had “slurred speech glassy eyes, and was swaying from side to side while standing at the bar.” The investigator said the patron later appeared to be nodding off in a chair in the back portion of the bar when a staff member of the tavern approached the patron to escort him off the premises.

The ABCC investigator alerted two fellow ABCC investigators with him that evening, as well as the Ayer Police, before making his presence known to bar owner David Berry who was also on hand that evening.

The patron was approached for identification but couldn’t recall where he lived. “Sorry, I’m a little drunk,” allegedly offered the patron.

The investigator said that Berry was “cooperative with the investigators, and assisted them in providing safe transportation home” for the patron.

The investigators were visiting the bar in November to inspect the establishment following an August 2011 incident that landed Carlin’s on probation for allegedly serving an underage patron.

The August incident was punishable with a three-day liquor license suspension, but the punishment was put on hold for a two year timeframe as long as there was no further incident.

With the subsequent November offense, in February, the commission reactivated the 3-day suspension dating to August 2011 and added on an additional four day suspension, with two days to serve and two days help in abeyance for another two year timeframe. The total five day suspension was to be served on March 21 through March 25.

The March 13 Notice of Compromise allows the tavern to remain open and serving alcohol.

— Follow Mary Arata at twitter.com/maryearata.

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