Complaints investigated, violation orders issued at area establishments
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Agents from the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) cited six establishments after receiving complaints of blatant violations of orders in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Three of the six establishments are in Athens County.
Agents visited the following liquor-permitted establishments and issued citations after witnessing the violations in neighboring Athens County:
- Agents served citations at three Athens area establishments as a result of a trace-back investigation from a fatal crash. The crash occurred on July 4, at approximately 2:30 a.m. when Christopher M. Witcher Jr., 21, Columbus, was driving a 2012 Jeep Wrangler southbound on Stewart Street near East Union Street in the city of Athens. The Jeep had an excessive amount of passengers when it attempted a sudden left turn into a parking lot and struck a curb. One of the passengers, Dion Terrance Hill-Delaney, 24, Reynoldsburg, was ejected from the vehicle and subsequently died from injuries sustained in the crash. Alcohol involvement was suspected in the crash which remains under investigation. During the investigation, agents watched surveillance video at the three locations and were able to determine that each of them had violated the ODH orders on July 4, the night of the fatal crash. In all three cases agents observed patrons walking around with alcoholic beverages, standing shoulder to shoulder, no social distancing and employees not properly wearing masks. Trace-back investigations are routinely conducted by OIU agents to determine whether alcohol was illegally sold or provided to an already-intoxicated person involved in an alcohol-related crash or incident.
- Stephens Fine Dining, Athens, received an administrative citation for violations of improper conduct – disorderly activities, sales to an intoxicated person, permitting removal of an alcoholic beverage sold for on premises consumption, insanitary conditions, failure to notify the division of expansion or change to the permit premises, and operating more than two fixed bars.
- The Crystal Bar, Athens, received an administrative citation for improper conduct – disorderly activity.
- The CI Bar, Athens, received an administrative citation for improper conduct – disorderly activity.
Other establishments investigated are:
- Nomad Holdings 2 LLC, known as Patio Tavern, Lakewood, received an administrative citation for improper conduct – disorderly activity and limitation on hours for sales and on-premises consumption. OIU agents observed multiple alcoholic beverages being served to patrons inside the establishment between 10:30 and 10:50 p.m. At approximately 10:55 p.m., agents entered the premises to take enforcement action and observed an additional alcoholic beverage being served, as well as a lack of social distancing and patrons congregating around the bar area.
- Trumbe Café Inc., known as Bella Doma Party House, Whitehall, received an administrative citation for limitation on hours for on-premises consumption. Agents visited premises at approximately 11:30 p.m. and observed more than 40 people inside drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Swiggys LLC, DBA: Winkin Willys, Washington Court House, received an administrative citation for limitation on hours for on-premises consumption. Upon entering the premises at approximately 10:30 p.m., agents were able to purchase an alcoholic beverage.
These cases will go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission for potential penalties, including fines and/or the suspension or revocation of liquor permits.
“We see that most of the permit premises are following the precautions put in place to make their establishments safe and they are complying with the directives,” said OIU Enforcement Commander Eric Wolf. “As agents continue to conduct compliance checks they take enforcement action when egregious violations like these are observed.”
The Ohio Investigative Unit is made up of fully-sworn, plainclothes peace officers responsible for enforcing Ohio’s alcohol, tobacco, and food stamp fraud laws. Agents conduct compliance checks to ensure the liquor permit premises are compliant with the Ohio Liquor Control Act. Agents also act on complaints of illegal activity on liquor permit premises. In addition to providing the safety checks associated with the COVID-19 directives, OIU agents continue to perform their normal compliance checks to ensure the liquor permit premises are complying with the Ohio Liquor Control Act.
The Ohio Investigative Unit is charged with enforcing the state’s liquor laws and is the only state law enforcement agency specifically tasked with investigating food stamp fraud crimes. Agents also investigate tobacco violations.