Liquor cases move forward |

Liquor cases move forward

— Cases against business owners who violated liquor laws are proceeding through the judicial system or through hearings before the Steamboat Springs City Council.

In September, police conducted compliance checks at liquor stores. Nine of 11 stores did not ask the underage buyer for identification.

In December, police checked 18 bars, restaurants and liquor stores. Six were cited for failing that compliance check.

In October, the City Council, also the liquor licensing authority, adopted an ordinance strengthening its ability to suspend and revoke licenses. As a result, owners of establishments that failed the December checks were not given criminal citations; only clerks were cited.

Now, owners must appear at hearings before the City Council, which could result in fines or license suspensions.

Of the nine stores that failed September’s check, before the new rules took effect, 19 criminal citations were given to clerks and liquor license holders.

Two of those criminal citation cases have been dismissed in Routt County Court.

The former deputy district attorney who dismissed one of the two cases did not return phone calls.

The defendant was a clerk at Go-Fer Foods.

The court file states, “The interests of justice would be served by the dismissal as herein requested.” County Judge James Garrecht approved the request Sept. 22.

Deputy District Attorney Tam–my Jenson said the other case was dismissed because the wrong defendant was charged for selling alcohol to a minor at the Kum & Go on Anglers Drive.

Jenson said the man charged, Nathan Allen, does not live in Colorado and is not Kum & Go’s liquor license holder.

According to his court file, Allen is an attorney in Kum & Go’s corporate legal department.

Jenson said the District Attorney’s Office had some difficulty finding the license holder because Kum & Go is a corporation and the license holder is not a Routt County resident.

Jenson said she has identified an Indiana man who she thinks is the store’s liquor license holder, and she is waiting to hear whether the police department has served the man a court summons.

“(Allen) is the wrong guy,” Jenson said. “He should never have been charged. Someone has to be responsible, though, for what happened. There shouldn’t be a corporate loophole somewhere.”

Jenson said the other corporation that was cited during the September check, 7-Eleven, opted to plead guilty to providing alcohol to a minor and was sentenced to 60 hours of community service that would be reduced to 30 hours if the store agreed to pay about $150 in court costs and to require its employees to take a Training for Intervention Procedures training class. The sentence was deferred for a year, which means if the store is compliant for one year, the charges would not be applied to the license holder’s criminal history.

Several of the other 23 cases included a deferred judgment of one year, as well as similar court costs, fines and community service.

Compliance cases from the September check are in the judicial system. The six liquor lic–ense holders who failed the December checks must appear before City Council.

Steamboat Springs City Clerk Julie Jordan said she was preparing written complaints for a Feb. 2 meeting during which the City Council could decide how to continue.

Jordan said the City Council must receive written complaints before it holds revocation and suspension hearings. At the Feb. 2 meeting, the City Council can ask Jordan to collect more information or schedule the hearings.

Jordan said she would suggest the City Council hold the hearings March 2. Jordan also said police would attend that hearing and present their side of the case.

“(The hearing) will basically be a deliberation,” she said.

“The liquor license holders will state their side of the story, and the City Council will go from there,” she said.

Under the new ordinance, the City Council can temporarily suspend an establishment’s liquor license. It also has the right to impose a fine in lieu of suspension if it finds special circumstances.

Jordan said businesses that failed previous compliance checks would not be considered during the March hearing.

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