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Regals placed on probation

May 13, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The owners of Regals Restaurant & Lounge at 12-14 Jonathan St. in Hagerstown are expected to pay a $1,500 fine to the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County, a lawyer representing them said Thursday.

The board, which oversees liquor licenses in Washington County, also placed Regals on probation for one year.

The board decided to penalize Regals owners, John R. and Fran M. Sandridge, after an April 21 hearing during which Hagerstown City Police officers testified about incidents of violence and general unruliness inside and outside Regals.

The Sandridges have until June 8 to choose between a $1,500 fine or a 15-day suspension of their liquor license, under a ruling by the board. The Sandridges have the option of appealing the decision to Washington County Circuit Court.

Robin Ficker, a Bethesda, Md., lawyer who accompanied the Sandridges to the April board hearing, said the couple would pay the fine.

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"I think it's a good outcome because there was no suspension (of the liquor license)," Ficker said.

"We realize there have been some valid criticisms about people not dispersing afterwards," Ficker said.

There have been complaints that Regals' patrons congregate in the street and a nearby parking lot after the bar closes.

Ficker said his clients look forward to cooperating with the police, the city and their patrons to try to solve any future problems.

At the April 21 board hearing, Hagerstown police officers testified about a March 20 stabbing at Regals and a fight that broke out later that night at the bar.

Officers also testified that one of the women involved in the March 20 fight had been drinking and was under 21 years old. No evidence was presented during the hearing to show that the woman consumed alcohol at Regals.

A letter dated May 5, from the board to the Sandridges informing them of the board's action, read: "Testimony presented, did, in fact, verify a minor in your establishment was cited as being in possession of alcohol by reason of consumption and arrested for disorderly conduct.

"We feel that licensees have a responsibility to contribute to the peace and safety of the community, especially considering the clientele they draw into the area. Disturbances and problems emanating from your premises, especially at closing time are of a major concern to the board and to law enforcement agencies."

The letter stated that the three board members, Donald L. Mellott, Robert L. Everhart and William F. Dunham, unanimously agreed to the penalty.

The letter also warned that "Any further violation of the statutes or rules and regulations of this board may seriously jeopardize your license."

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