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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LATROBE ARMED SERVICES ASSOCIATION (12/18/74)

decided: December 18, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD, APPELLANT,
v.
LATROBE ARMED SERVICES ASSOCIATION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, in case of In Re: Revocation of Club Liquor License No. C-4807 for Latrobe Armed Forces Association, No. 590 July Term, 1973.

COUNSEL

J. Leonard Langan, Assistant Attorney General, with him Harry Bowytz, Chief Counsel, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellant.

No appearance for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 200]

This is an appeal by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Board) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, dated February 7, 1974, which is described below.

On March 20, 1973, the Board issued citation number 445 of 1973, directed against the Latrobe Armed Services Association (Association). The citation alleged violations of the Liquor Code, Act of April 12, 1951, P.L. 90, as amended, 47 P.S. 1-101 et seq., and rules and regulations adopted by the Board pursuant thereto. Specifically, this citation alleged that (1) the charter of the organization was not in the possession of the original incorporators or their direct or legitimate successors; and (2) an unexplained shortage existed in the Association's cash income. On April 17, 1973, the Board issued a second citation to the Association (number 552 of 1973), alleging (1) the serving of alcoholic beverages to nonmembers; and (2) the serving of alcoholic beverages after the hours permitted by law.

As a matter of convenience, hearings on both citations were held on June 8, 1973. The record indicates that citations 445 and 552 were considered separately by the hearing examiner, with separate testimony taken, in turn, on each citation. Among the evidence introduced at the hearings was the past disciplinary record of the Association, which included two prior citations

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 201]

    and convictions (in 1962 and 1970). In both numbers 445 and 552, the Board, on July 20, 1973, ordered the revocation of the Association's club liquor license. These revocation orders (and the accompanying opinions) were issued separately, consistent with the Board's treatment of the citations as two distinct cases.

The Association appealed both orders of revocation, by a single appeal, to the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County. The lower court reversed and set aside the Board's order in number 445, and modified the penalty in number 552, vacating the revocation and substituting a 30-day suspension. The Board appealed to this Court, questioning only the modification of penalty in number 552.*fn1

Section 471 of the Liquor Code, 47 P.S. 4-471 (Supp. 1974-1975), provides for review of an order of revocation by the courts of common pleas. Such review is regulated by the following provision: "Upon appeal, the court so appealed to shall, in the exercise of its discretion, sustain, reject, alter, or modify the findings, conclusions and penalties of the board, based on the findings of fact and conclusions of law as found by the court."

Our scope of review in liquor license revocation cases is limited to determining whether the court below committed an error of law or abused its discretion. Commonwealth v. M.S.G., Inc., ...


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