Tuesday August 21, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Licensing Board has lifted the three-month suspension of a city bar's liquor license, provided the bar owner sells it, which could happen within the next 60 days.

The board's unanimous decision on Tuesday means Hermann Alexander's will remain closed until owner Mitchell Grossjung successfully finds a buyer for the license. The city will continue to hold the license, pending its sale.

The five-member panel had been urging Grossjung to sell the license since they shut down the Lyman Street bar on May 15. Hermann Alexander's initially lost its liquor license amid allegations of illegal gambling and liquor law violations, as well as drug dealing -- charges that stem from a police raid in April by the Berkshire County Drug Task Force.

Grossjung's attorney, Robert D. Sullivan Jr., acknowledged during the board's meeting that his client is seriously trying to sell the license.

"We have been in discussions with several people, including the landlord of the building," Sullivan said.

Landlord Phil Massery confirmed he has potential tenants to replace Hermann Alexander's, who would open an eatery with the liquor license.

"It will be a restaurant -- not a bar," Massery said. "It will be family-oriented."

Meanwhile, Pittsfield police updated the board on its investigation of Gross jung's involvement in the alleged drug trade at the bar. Lt. Michael Grady says he expects the Berkshire District Attor ney's office to seek an indictment against Grossjung based on a police report that he was fully aware of the cocaine dealing at his establishment.


Advertisement

Sullivan has previously denied police claims his client conspired to violate state drug laws.

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.

The police action led to Grossjung, along with Anth ony Thompson of Pittsfield, 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 Beverage Control Comm ission claims Hermann Alexander's sold liquor bought illegally from retail stores on 20 different occasions, rather than liquor purchased from wholesale distributors as required under state law. Grossjung appeared before the ABCC in Boston for a show cause hearing on July 31 to answer those charges. The state commission has yet to issue a ruling in the case. The three-member panel has 30 days from the hearing date to reach a decision.

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