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The executive director of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance was caught drinking alcohol while on duty twice as a liquor licensee at the Bel Air First Friday event June 4.

Scott Walker, who began serving as the executive director last December, was caught drinking alcohol at the First Friday event by Harford County Liquor Control Board Chief Inspector Charlie Robbins, who had advised Walker it was illegal to do so.

Walker’s actions resulted in the business promotion group receiving a $1,000 fine from the Harford County Liquor Control Board Wednesday.

Walker was the liquor licensee for the event, and according to the liquor board’s rules, should not have consumed alcohol while it was going on.

The liquor board found Walker in violation for consuming alcoholic beverages while on duty; allowing employees to consume alcohol while on duty; and failing to cooperate with the board inspector.

Lawyer Michael Leaf, who also serves on the board for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, represented Walker at Wednesday’s liquor board hearing.

For the three violations, the liquor board fined the alliance $1,000.

“We are not disputing any charges in the report by Chief Robbins,” Leaf said. “The report is substantially, if not entirely, correct.”

Despite the violations, the liquor board still unanimously approved another one day beer and wine license for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance for the First Friday event today (Friday).

Walker will no longer be the licensee for the event, however, and more stringent rules and regulations for the volunteers have been put into place.

Richard Molinaro, president of the alliance, will serve as the licensee for today’s event.

The incident

On June 4, Robbins inspected the First Friday event, held on the grounds of the Harford County Courthouse and along Office Street. The event is from 5 to 8 p.m.

Around 5:10 p.m., Robbins saw Walker drinking beer.

“I told him that he was a licensee and that he was not allowed to drink while on duty,” Robbins read from his report Wednesday. “I further explained that the prohibition extended to the people that he had serving alcoholic beverages and that the board rules are clear about employee consumption while on duty.”

Robbins said he then talked to volunteers who were not checking IDs before placing wristbands on attendees old enough to drink. The wristbands allow people to purchase tickets for alcohol.

He said he also witnessed volunteers drinking alcohol at the stand for VIP pass holders.

A thunderstorm that passed through the area sent people in different directions for 40 minutes, and Robbins said approximately 10 percent of the people who returned to the event were consuming alcohol without wristbands.

Around 7:40 p.m., Robbins said he saw Walker approach the beer wagon and get a beer, which he poured part of into an insulated cup. Walker than drank the rest.

“He [Walker] stated that the beer in the insulated cup was for his wife and that he wasn’t drinking beer,” Robbins read from his report.

Robbins said Walker made no effort to stop the volunteers from drinking while on duty or selling alcohol to those without wristbands. In addition, alcohol is not allowed to leave the fenced area of the event; however, Robbins said he saw patrons leaving with their alcohol.

“I want to offer my apologies for the way the situation was handled,” Walker told the board, adding this was only his second event as the executive director.

Chairman Donald Hess was not happy with Walker’s behavior.

“We find it very unsettling that after being warned, you continue doing the same thing,” he said. “It doesn’t give the board a good feeling.

Leaf gave a presentation on the changes that will be implemented To prevent further violations during Bel Air’s First Fridays.

“Our goal is to make sure this is run as good as or better than the BBQ Bash,” he said, adding that he has served as the liquor license for the bash in the past.

Hess stated that the BBQ Bash, which is held in Bel Air, was well regulated in 2009.

Leaf also said the volunteers will be educated on rules and procedures and will sign a written statement they received and understand them.

Leaf also said the “No Alcohol Beyond This Point” signs will have all of the rules regarding the event listed, including that patrons should be prepared to be carded and that no vertical IDs will be accepted.

A marine will also be posted near the M&T Bank sidewalk to make sure no one is leaving with alcohol.

Tickets for alcohol sales will cease at 7:30 p.m., and alcohol will not be served after 7:45 p.m.

Leaf said one of the board of directors for the alliance will serve as the licensee in the future.

“We decided to take the responsibility off of Scott [Walker] from here on out,” Leaf said. “We know we are required to supervise the event and we know what we have to do.”

Stars & Stripes

The board also held a show cause hearing Wednesday for the Stars & Stripes Grille in Abingdon.

Licensee James Mottley was charged with selling alcoholic beverages without a current liquor license and failing to cooperate with representatives from the liquor board.

After hearing testimony from Mottley and arguments from his lawyer, Joseph Snee, the liquor board unanimously agreed Mottley did not violate any liquor laws.

Mottley’s liquor license was unable to be renewed May 1, when his 2009-10 license expired, because of outstanding state taxes.

The Maryland State Comptroller’s Office put a hold on the license until the taxes were paid.

Mottley stopped selling alcohol May 1. He secured a loan and paid the back taxes May 7, and the comptroller lifted the hold on the license.

The liquor board was notified by e-mail around 2 p.m. May 7 the hold was lifted. Mottley said he went to liquor board office on Main Street in Bel Air to pick up his license, but the office was closed because the staff was at the Maryland Alcohol Licensing Association conference in Ocean City.

Mottley left a message at the office, and spoke with Snee and Pilar Gracia, the board’s lawyer, but neither were able to get him his license.

“Your taxes were due in November and your license expired on April 30, yet you waited until May 7 to reconcile that and then you expect someone to sign your license within a two hour window,” Hess said, adding that only two people can sign licenses.

Mottley said his business took a hit this past winter with all the snow.

“I am a businessman, I am doing whatever I can to stay afloat,” he said.

Mottley picked up his new license May 10, and when asked by Administrator Kathryn Thess if he sold alcohol over the weekend, he replied he did not.

A liquor board inspection on May 10 before Mottley picked up his license revealed all of the alcohol was back on the shelves and empty bottles were in the trash. Two receipts from the weekend showing alcohol sales were also found.

When confronted, Mottley admitted he sold alcohol over Mother’s Day weekend because he had advertised and accepted reservations for his weekend brunch.

Mottley completed a short statement acknowledging he sold the alcohol, even though he knew he was not supposed to.

Alcohol sales from May 7 and 8 totaled approximately $700.

The defense

Snee maintained that the charges against Mottley should be dropped because his client was not in violation of those particular rules.

Snee also said the comptroller lifted the hold during normal business hours on May 7, allowing the license to be picked up. Had liquor board personnel been at the office, Mottley would have been given his license.

Snee questioned why the liquor board did not hire a temporary employee for the day to take care of any business the public may have.

“The premises should have been open,” Snee said, adding that if it was, none of this would have happened.

“The license had not been picked up, not because Mr. Mottley failed but because the board failed,” Snee added.

Snee also addressed the issue date on Mottley’s license.

Even though the license was not picked up until May 10, the date of issue on the license is May 1.

As a point of clarification, Hess said all of the licenses are mass printed with the May 1 date on them so he can sign them all at the same time.

Snee said the license was already issued, but could not be picked up by May 1. He said Mottley should be charged with not physically possessing the license.

He compared it to a driver who gets pulled over and has left his/her driver’s license at home.

Snee said the driver would not be charged with not having a valid license, but with not having it with them.

Snee asked that no action be taken against the Mottley, and the board unanimously voted that no violation occurred.

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