Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fine Wines & Spirits: More on the Story

On Friday, Gossips had a chance to read the administrative law judge's report on the investigation of Fine Wines & Spirits at 40 Green Street by the State Liquor Authority, which resulted in the liquor license being revoked. There were two charges brought against the business: (1) that the licensee of record, Aanal Patel, was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the business and had relinquished the management of the business to someone else; (2) that the licensee failed to keep adequate records of business transacted. Here are the charges in the language of the report:
  1. That the licensee made its license available to a person not specified in the license, in that the licensee permitted Dharmesh Patel, a person not authorized by the State Liquor Authority, to avail itself of the license privilege from on or about November 2, 2012, all cause for revocation, cancellation or suspension of the license in accordance with section 111 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.
  2. That on and before November 2, 2012, in violation of subdivision 15 of section 105 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, the licensee has failed to keep and maintain adequate (and accurate) records of business transacted by the licensee on the licensed premises.
Supporting the allegation that Aanal Patel was "a figurehead on the license for another person" were an article from the Register-Star and an entry in the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce online directory. On November 30, 2011, the Register-Star published a picture of the Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony at Fine Wines & Spirits. The person shown in the picture, wielding the giant scissors, was identified as "Store Manager 'Sunnie.'" "Sunnie" is Sanjay Patel. At the same time, the Chamber of Commerce online directory listed the proprietor of the business as Dharmesh Patel. (The Chamber of Commerce listing has since been changed, and the proprietor is now listed as "Anal Patel"--the unfortunate misspelling is theirs.) 

The SLA investigation disclosed, among other things, that Aanal Patel lived two hours away in Mahwah, New Jersey, and was currently in school studying for the master's degree in accounting. According to the ALJ's report, her testimony "did not present a convincing grasp of the LP's business." Dharmesh Patel, who had taken over the management of Fine Wines & Spirits, had initially been represented as Aanal Patel's cousin who was helping her out because he owned a grocery store across the street, "knew the ropes," and was close at hand if help was needed. In his testimony before the ALJ, Dharmesh Patel revealed that he was not actually Aanal Patel's cousin, that he had no familial relationship with her but was a family friend who had known her for five or six years, and they were from the same part of India.

Assuming that the "grocery store across the street" was 67 Green Street, Gossips checked the status of that business on the SLA website and found that Dharmesh Patel is listed as the principal. Coincidentally, Gossips learned that on May 6, 2014, the business was fined $8,000 for selling alcohol to a minor.

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