PITTSFIELD -- A city bar will remain closed due to allegations the owner allowed drug dealing at his establishment.
The Pittsfield Licensing Board has extended for at least another five weeks its suspension of Hermann Alexander’s liquor license, which was originally taken away for 60 days in mid-May. The board plans to revisit the suspension at its Aug. 20 meeting with the option of another extension, outright revocation or lifting the punishment when the 38-day period ends.
The board’s decision Friday came after hearing city police say they are close to wrapping up its investigation of Mitchell Grossjung, owner of the Lyman Street bar.
"We fully expect Mr. Grossjung to be indicted on conspiracy to violate state drug laws or some variation of that charge," said Lt. Michael Grady. "Mr. Gross jung had full knowledge of the cocaine dealing at the bar."
Grossjung’s attorney, Rob ert D. Sullivan Jr. denied Grady’s claim, saying police have not produced criminal charges against his client.
"He [hasn’t been] indicted for conspiracy to violate drug laws and that’s pertinent to the allegation," Sullivan said.
However, four city residents are facing drug related charges in connection with alleged cocaine dealing inside the bar and in its parking lot. The four suspects have pleaded not guilty in court.
Hermann Alexander’s initially lost its liquor license on May 15 amid allegations of illegal gambling, liquor law violations, as well as drug dealing, charges that stem from a police raid in April by the Berkshire County Drug Task Force.
The police action led to Grossjung, along with bar employee Anthony Thom pson, being charged with making unlawful payments from video poker machines to bar customers. Both men have since denied the charges in court and are free on bail.
In addition, the Mass achusetts Alcoholic Bev erage Control Comm ission’s claims Hermann Alexander’s illegally sold liquor purchased from retail stores on 20 different occasions, rather than liquor purchased from wholesale distributors as required under state law. Grossjung will appear at a show cause hearing before the ABCC on July 31 in Boston to answer those charges.
But the Licensing Board says it is most concerned about Grossjung’s alleged involvement in the drug trade at Hermann Alexander’s.
Citing a bar employee’s statement, Grady said city detectives claim Grossjung witnessed dozens of cocaine drug deals every night, with some people openly snorting cocaine on the bar.
"Based on what we’ve heard today, the place is an open-air drug market where alcohol is sold," said Licensing Board member Thomas Campoli. "[The bar] is out of control."
Sullivan felt the board should have lifted the suspension, giving Grossjung a chance to improve the image of Hermann Alexander’s in an effort to keep away the criminal element.
"He wants to make changes to make [the bar] more respectable, even classy," Sullivan said.
Given the bar’s recent troubled history, the board urged Grossjung to sell his liquor license and move on to another line of work.
"We are not convinced he’s a capable person to have this license," said board member Robert Quattrochi.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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