Monday July 2, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The owner of a city bar that was closed for nearly two months amid allegations of illegal gambling, drug dealing and liquor law violations wants to prove to authorities he can run a respectable business.

Later this month, Mitchell Grossjung, proprietor of Hermann Alexander's, is scheduled to appear before the Pittsfield Licensing Board and the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

The local board will hold a special hearing July 13 to determine whether to reinstate Grossjung's liquor license for the Lyman Street establishment.

The hearing will immediately follow the board's regular business meeting set for 3:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Meanwhile, the ABCC has scheduled a show cause hearing for 1:30 p.m. on July 31 in Boston, regarding the 20 counts involving the alleged illegal sale of alcoholic beverages bought from retail stores, rather than purchased, as required, from wholesale distributors.

Grossjung, through his attorney Robert D. Sullivan, claims he can show his bar "is more than capable of becoming a positive asset to the city of Pittsfield."

"Mr. Grossjung is working diligently to develop a new business plan to present to the ABCC and the local licensing board, which he hopes will demonstrate his commitment to improving the culture and perception of Hermann Alexander's," Sull ivan said in an email to The Eagle.

Sullivan added, "Mr. Grossjung is confident that the licensing authorities will find this information helpful in making the only proper decision, which is to allow [my client] to reopen his business."

The licensing board has agreed to revisit its May 15 decision before the suspension expires on July 15 because city police are still investigating the alleged illegal activities at the bar.

Last week, Grossjung and bar employee Anthony Th ompson were arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court ,where the two Pittsfield men each denied a charge of making unlawful payouts from video poker machines to his customers. Judge Mary Lou Rup released Grossjung and Thompson on $300 and $200 cash bail, respectively.

Hermann Alexander's legal troubles stem from a police raid in April by the Berkshire County Drug Task Force. In addition to the gambling and liquor license violations, the police action led to the arrest of four city residents charged with conspiring to violate drug laws in connection with alleged cocaine dealing inside the bar and it's parking lot. The four suspects have pleaded not guilty in court.

Sullivan has emphasized before the Licensing Board his client wasn't involved in the drug trade. Police have claimed the bar owner was aware of the drug dealing and ignored the illegal activity.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.