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Jun 28, 2016 2:58 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Charlie Brown's Owner Says He Will Fight To Keep Liquor License: SLA Says He Has Declined Hearing

Outside of Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill in Hampton Bays. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Jun 29, 2016 11:12 AM

The embattled owner of Charlie Brown’s Bar and Grill said this week that he intends to fight to have his liquor license restored—even though State Liquor Authority officials, who suspended his ability to sell alcohol earlier this month after a double stabbing outside his Hampton Bays business, say he has already agreed not to fight the charges.

William Crowley, a spokesperson for the SLA, said this week that the owner of the bar, Luis Tejada, agreed to cancel his liquor license after his office suspended it on June 14, about a month after the incident in a parking lot adjoining the West Montauk Highway establishment that left two people critically injured and four people arrested.

In addition to that incident, Southampton Town Police say they have been called to the bar about 40 times since late 2014 to respond to a variety of issues, everything from complaints about excessive noise and disorderly conduct, to allegations of prostitution and illegal gambling.

But Mr. Tejada, who has the option of requesting a hearing to make his case for reinstatement, said in a separate interview at his closed bar this week that he still intends to fight to have his license restored. He said he also wants to debunk allegations that his business promotes prostitution and allows illegal gambling—two of the complaints that have been leveled against his establishment ever since he took over ownership of the neighborhood restaurant and bar about two years ago.

“I will fight whatever charges out there that are not true,” Mr. Tejada said, noting that he has hired an attorney and plans to attend next month’s hearing before the SLA in Manhattan to have his liquor license restored. “But with regard to reopening and continuing to business here—that is what we are not sure about. But whether to fight these charges that are insane and not true? Absolutely.”

He added that he thinks mosts of those allegations are being made up by neighbors and community members who are upset that his customers are primarily Latino.

“A lot of these rumors that have come up about illegal gambling, prostitution—those things are so not true,” Mr. Tejada said. “Those were begun by people who have always had a problem since day one that I took over and I began doing Latino nights. The fact that we were doing Latino nights bothered a lot of people when I came here.”

Robert Romano, an attorney specializing in liquor licenses who is representing Mr. Tejada, said his client has not been charged with promoting illegal gambling. He also stressed that individuals have filed complaints with the Southampton Town Police stating that Charlie Brown’s is promoting prostitution, but he noted that no charges have been filed and no arrests made, prior to the suspension of Mr. Tejada’s liquor license.

Mr. Romano added that, to date, Mr. Tejada has been charged only with violating Section 106, Subdivision 6, of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, which says a business holding a liquor license should not allow gambling or for the establishment to become disorderly.

Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Susan Ralph, whose department forwarded the complaints filed against Charlie Brown’s to the SLA, did not return a call seeking comment this week.

Both Mr. Romano and Mr. Tejada pointed out that the business is licensed through the state to sell lottery tickets, and can also accept bets on horse races for the Suffolk County Off-Track Betting Corporation. Last week, state lottery officials collected all of the lotto tickets from the establishment, and the retailer who supplies the tickets to Mr. Tejada asked the New York Lottery to stop allowing their sale at the bar.

Mr. Tejada said he is being unfairly targeted because the community has been trying to push him out of business ever since he took over the establishment.

“Ever since day one, the rumors began flying,” Mr. Tejada said, specifically referring to the allegations of prostitution and gambling. “I even approached the authorities to see what can be done, and they said there is nothing really illegal about people spreading rumors. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could really do about it.”

At a Southampton Town Board work session on Thursday, June 23, Town Attorney James Burke informed the board that Mr. Tejada had apparently informed the SLA that he has decided not to request a hearing next month, suggesting that his liquor license will be pulled and he will be unable to apply for a new one for at least two years.

“I did speak with the attorney for the SLA yesterday,” Mr. Burke said at the work session. “At this point, I don’t think there will be a hearing—the matter has been resolved at this point. They’ve given up their license. The attorney for the SLA [Michael Ammirato] said CB’s has canceled their license.”

Attempts to contact Mr. Ammirato were unsuccessful this week.

Mr. Tejada, whose license for Charlie Brown’s was issued on August 20, 2014, and originally scheduled to expire on July 31, 2018, said on Friday that he had not canceled his license.

“I know people would call and make complaints of these things, but, again, we are not being charged with any of that,” Mr. Tejada said.

He added that he thinks he is being unfairly targeted because of the double stabbing that took place outside his business and in an adjoining parking lot.

“This is all just a horrible incident that occurred, where someone got hurt,” Mr. Tejada said. “It’s unfortunate. We live in a crazy world where people are always … it’s become a time where people are vulnerable wherever you go and people are in the public. Things, horrible things are happening everywhere in the world.

“A lot of people want to put the blame on us, on CB’s, but that isn’t the case,” he continued. “Of course we didn’t want this to happen—you know what I mean. Absolutely not. And I think we did a lot to try and prevent things like this from happening, like [hiring] licensed security staff here on the weekends, including Latino night … But when people leave their house armed, with intent to do harm, it’s very difficult to stop them from doing that.”

Last month, four men—Carlos Gutierrez-Zacupa, 23, of Flanders; Nelvin Ramos-Andrades, 18, of Hampton Bays; Luis Linares-Chavez, 22, of Westhampton; and Marvin Siciliano-Nunez, 19, of Hampton Bays—were charged with stabbing two men outside of Charlie Brown’s. Each has been charged with two counts of first-degree gang assault, a felony that is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Mr. Linares-Chavez was additionally charged with driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a misdemeanor. Mr. Ramos-Andrades was a senior attending Hampton Bays High School prior to his arrest.

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Did the person who got gutted in the "horrible incident" have health insurance? If not, Mr. Tejada should pay for his hospital bills.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jun 29, 16 8:27 AM