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Liquor board to investigate complaints against Gege's Place

August 04, 2010|by DAN DEARTH

Washington County liquor officials said Wednesday they plan to schedule a hearing with a Sharpsburg restaurant owner to discuss complaints of wild behavior outside the business.

The Board of License Commissioners for Washington County, known as the liquor board, said they would investigate the allegations against Gege's Place after Sharpsburg Town Councilman Bryan Gabriel requested an investigation.

Gabriel, who said he was representing the Town Council, told the liquor board during a Wednesday hearing that in addition to noise complaints, patrons of the restaurant at 208 S. Church St. have been seen fighting and urinating in public.

"There's a lot of loud noise coming from that place," Gabriel said.

Gege's owner, Benjamin Brown, did not attend Wednesday's hearing but said in a subsequent telephone interview that the allegations were inaccurate.

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"The only reason they're picking on me is because I'm black," Brown said. "If noises are coming from outside, I don't know anything about it."

Gabriel told liquor officials that Brown built a fence around the restaurant without going through the proper zoning channels.

Brown said he was given a permit and built the fence because people were vandalizing the outside of his business.

"I went through all the proper zoning," Brown said. "It took me nine months to build that fence."

When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Town Clerk Kim Fulk confirmed that Brown received the permit about four months ago.

Robert L. Everhart, liquor board chairman, said the date of Brown's hearing would be set later.

"We've only heard (the town's) side of the story," Everhart said. "We need to hear the other side."

Everhart said Brown could lose his liquor license and be fined $2,500 if the three members of the board determine that liquor laws were violated. That penalty, which is the maximum, rarely is imposed, Everhart said.

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