2011 drug sales, banquet issues and serving to underage woman cited
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump | Thursday, May 25, 2012
An Elgin restaurant was fined $2,000, had its liquor licenses suspended for 30 days and will face the potential revocation of its licenses if it fails to stay clean for the next 12 months in what was described as one of the city’s harshest penalties ever meted out to a liquor license holder.
Rodriguez Corporation, doing business as La Quebrada Restaurant, 50 N. Spring St., entered into a stipulated agreement with the Elgin Liquor Control Commission on Wednesday, which held a special meeting specifically to address the issue. In a stipulated agreement, the liquor license holder typically admits to the allegations and agrees to a penalty.
Elgin Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley explained to the commission, whose members are the City Council, that the agreement is the result of multiple incidents of cocaine sales by a now former employee of the restaurant, the sale of alcoholic beverages to an underage individual on several occasions, and a violation of the city’s code governing banquet facilities. Cogley explained some of the incidents date to February 2011.
Cogley said under the terms of the stipulated agreement the liquor commissioners approved, La Quebrada Restaurant must pay the $2,000 fine within 30 days. The suspension of its liquor licenses begins Tuesday, May 29, and extends through June 27. During that time, La Quebrada Restaurant not only is barred from selling alcoholic beverages, but it also is barred from having alcoholic beverages on the premises. That prohibition applies to people at La Quebrada Restaurant as well.
The third peg of the penalty carries the greatest threat, however: Any new violation in the course of the next 12 months would be grounds to revoke the establishment’s Class E-1 restaurant and Class S banquet liquor licenses.
Commissioner John Prigge questioned whether the commission should not revoke La Quebrada Restaurant’s liquor licenses outright, noting the violations are serious and that it is a matter of the city’s credibility when it talks about downtown revitalization and improving public safety in the area, yet refuses to take sharp action on a business where criminal activity has occurred.
But Commissioner Robert Gilliam said that, short of a liquor license revocation, the La Quebrada agreement represents the harshest penalty he’s seen imposed on a liquor license holder in 25 years on the City Council and the Liquor Control Commission.
Fines have not approached $2,000 before, Gilliam said, and the 30-day liquor licenses suspension will cost La Quebrada dearly, he said, because liquor sales represent a significant portion of revenues.
The complaints against La Quebrada alleges:
- The restaurant allowed an alcoholic beverage to be served to an underage person in February 2012.
- The restaurant charged admission to a Feb. 24 banquet event, in violation of the municipal code for Class S licenses. At the same event, the complaint states La Quebrada allowed alcohol to be served without adhering to code requirements pertaining to the serving of food.
- That the restaurant failed to prevent criminal activity on its premises in early 2011.
The criminal activity cited was mostly on Feb. 19, 2011, when undercover officers purchased cocaine from La Quebrada employee Jose Antonio Flores. The liquor commission was told Flores is no longer employed by La Quebrada.On the same date, undercover officers also were able to make cocaine purchases within the restaurant from nonemployees Pascual Torres-Hernandez, Abel Flores, Ricardo Gomez, Tanayria DelGado, Miguel Angel Arcos-Rodriguez, and Juan M. Ascencio-Magallanes. According to the complaint, Oracio Mora-Bedolla also sold cocaine to an undercover officer on April 2, 2011.