Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Appellant
Argued, April 14, 2015
Publication Ordered July 2, 2015.
Appealed from No. SA 13-001046. Common Pleas Court of the County of Allegheny. O'Reilly, J.
Michael J. Plank, Assistant Counsel, Harrisburg, for appellant.
Charles L. Caputo, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉ E COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge.
P. KEVIN BROBSON, J.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Board) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (trial court), which reversed an order of the Board denying BCLT, Inc.'s (Licensee) application for renewal of its Restaurant Liquor License (liquor license). We now affirm.
On March 8, 2013, Licensee filed a timely application to renew its liquor license for the premises located at 1400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 195a.) In response to Licensee's application, the Board's Bureau of Licensing (Bureau) indicated that there were two violations of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code (Code) and fourteen " incidents of disturbances" at or adjacent to Licensee's licensed premises which may warrant non-renewal of Licensee's liquor license. ( Id. at 198a.) The Bureau ordered a hearing to determine whether to renew Licensee's liquor license.
On August 7, 2013, a hearing examiner conducted a hearing. ( Id. at 1a.) The Board presented evidence concerning Licensee's
two citations for violations of the Code. The first citation was issued on December 12, 2006. ( Id. at 201a.) Licensee was charged with violating Section 493(12) of the Code for failing to maintain complete and truthful records. ( Id. ) The charge was sustained, and Licensee was fined $300.00 for this violation. ( Id. at 202a.) The second citation was issued on August 15, 2008. ( Id. at 204a.) Licensee was charged with violating Section 406(a)(2) of the Code and Section 493(16) of the Code for selling alcohol after 2:00 a.m. ( Id. ) The charge was sustained, and Licensee was fined $1,200.00 for this violation. ( Id. at 206a.)
The Board presented the testimony of Lieutenant Victor Joseph, Jr. Lieutenant Joseph testified that on September 12, 2012, he responded to an incident that occurred at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Stevenson Street, where Licensee's business is located. ( Id. at 10a.) A security guard employed by Licensee, Steven Rogers, indicated that a fight had broken out inside Licensee's business and that, as a result of the fight, an unruly patron was ejected from the premises. ( Id. at 14a.) The patron later returned with a gun and began to shoot in the direction of Mr. Rogers. ( Id. ) Mr. Rogers claimed that, even though he was carrying a firearm, he did not return fire. ( Id. at 15a-16a.) A surveillance video provided to the police by Licensee, however, appeared to show an arm coming from the door of Licensee's business and returning fire. ( Id. ) Lieutenant Joseph later spoke to Mr. Rogers and discovered that he did not have a license to carry a concealed firearm. ( Id. at 18a.) Mr. Rogers also claimed to be a constable, but later admitted that he was not. ( Id. at 16a-17a.) Lieutenant Joseph testified that Mr. Rogers was later charged for carrying a firearm without a license and impersonating a public servant. ( Id. at 18a.) On cross-examination, Lieutenant Joseph indicated that if there was " a call for the corner of Fifth [Avenue] and Stevens[on Street], somebody may use [Licensee's premises] as a landmark," even if a crime was not committed at Licensee's business. ( Id. at 24a-25a.) He further testified that Kevin Cushin, the son of Licensee's owner, was cooperative during the investigation. ( Id. at 25a.)
Lieutenant Joseph also testified about an incident that occurred on October 3, 2012. ( Id. at 33a.) A bar patron exited Licensee's business with a severe knife wound on his face. ( Id. at 36a.) Although there was a metal detector at Licensee's premises, the security guard that evening chose to pat patrons down instead. ( Id. at 35a.) Although there was video surveillance on Licensee's premises, Lieutenant Joseph did not know if the tape from that evening had been recovered. ( Id. at 38a.) On cross-examination, Lieutenant Joseph testified that the fight between the patron and the attacker had begun at a different location. ( Id. at 41a.) The knife incident was a continuation of that fight. ( Id. ) Lieutenant Joseph testified that if the patron and the attacker had met on the street instead of on Licensee's premises, there still would likely have been " some sort" of altercation. ( Id. at 50a.)
Officer James Zigarella also testified on behalf of the Board. Officer Zigarella testified that on June 28, 2011, he was informed that an individual was selling narcotics outside of Licensee's ...