The new chairman of the Baltimore Liquor Board, Benjamin A. Neil, has signed a consent decree that reverses the decision of the previous liquor board and allows a Waverly tavern found guilty of illegal gambling to reopen its doors.
Stadium Lounge, at 3353 Greenmount Avenue, has served 71 days of a 180-day closure that was ordered by the former board, headed by retired judge Thomas Ward and commissioner Dana Petersen Moore.
Last month, the two commissioners were replaced by Neil and Douglas H. Trotter by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. (A third commissioner, Harvey E. Jones, remains on the board.)
Acted at Request of Tavern’s Attorney
Last Friday, according to information disclosed today by City Councwoman Mary Pat Clarke, Neil signed a consent degree that was submitted by Stadium Lounge’s attorney allowing the tavern to reopen. Neil’s only condition on the licensee was to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the local community within 30 days.
Neil’s action has enraged Clarke, who represents the district where Stadium Lounge is located.
She said in a press release that the decision “lacked notice, hearing and public board approval” and “bodes ill for many community-favorable liquor board decisions now under court appeal.”
Clarke has called a press conference this afternoon at City Hall where the Liquor Board is meeting today. (The Brew sought response from Neil through Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth and the call has not been returned.)
According to board documents, city police raided Stadium Lounge on March 12 and found five illegal video slot machines and witnessed at least two patrons receiving payouts for gambling. From a bank bag and other places on the premises, the police seized $7,867 in cash.
The police told the board that they saw the licensee, Domingo Kim, “on the premises and attempting to hide potential proceeds of gambling in his personal vehicle.”
The board suspended Stadium Lounge’s operations for 180 days after hearing lengthy testimony from residents and community groups. Many called for the tavern’s license to be revoked.
Stadium Lounge’s attorney, Frank V. Boozer Jr., filed an appeal of the suspension in Baltimore Circuit Court and wrote a letter to the new board on July 16 asking that the former board’s decision be reconsidered.
Neil acted on Boozer’s letter on July 24, allowing the bar to reopen.
Councilwoman Clarke today chastised Neil for the secretive manner in which the decision was made and called for “a cease-fire on consent agreements with applicants under court appeal.”