- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Glenn E. Buckler Sr. bought his own liquor license for a Charlotte Hall bar after his son pleaded guilty in a federal cocaine case and gave up the business, and Buckler said last week that it was his son who brought in his leftover stock of unsold alcohol that authorities found in a shed behind the bar.
St. Mary’s liquor board members told Buckler last Thursday that he is responsible for what happens at the Heavy Hitters Bar & Grill, now licensed in his name, and they fined him $1,500 after ruling that alcohol bottles had been reused or refilled in the shed, and that the shed had alcohol not covered by a transfer permit or his liquor license.
Buckler acknowledged that state and county authorities found 388 bottles of alcohol worth $6,664 and a funnel in the storage building behind Heavy Hitters Bar & Grill last July, five days after he took over the business. Buckler testified, however, that he didn’t know the bottles were there and that he later learned that his son, the former operator of the business, had brought them in before going to prison on the federal drug charge.
“I was just as shocked as everybody else who walked in there,” Buckler said, adding that his son should have legally disposed of the alcohol and provided the money to his children. “They could have had the $6,000 while he’s in prison,” Buckler said. “That leaves the rest of us to take care of his kids.”
Buckler said his son took keys from the bar’s register to get through two gates and enter the shed.
“He told me he thought that he was helping me out,” Buckler testified. “I said if he came back again, I would have him arrested. I live by the book. He has put me in this spot, and I guess he expects me to pay the price.”
A bartender told the liquor board’s enforcement coordinator and inspector, and state comptroller’s office officials called to the scene, that it had been common for bottles to be refilled when Buckler’s son had the business, Joann Wood, the board’s attorney, said at Thursday’s meeting. The board’s inspector went into the shed, the lawyer said, because alcohol in the bar did not match receipts he viewed at the business.
Buckler said the bartender no longer works there.
Daniel Guenther, Buckler’s lawyer, said his client should be no more liable for the alcohol that was found in the shed than if a delivery truck full of unpurchased beer crashed into the bar, or a burglar left a bomb there.
“His son came in like a truck out of control,” Guenther said. “This is a bomb to my client.”
Wood responded, “It’s really easy to blame the guy in prison for everything that’s happening. He’s an easy target.”
Board members advised Buckler that even if he did not know the alcohol was in the shed, he was responsible for what happened at his business.
“That’s part of being a business owner. If you’re new to this, you have a big lesson to learn,” board member Linda Palchinsky said during the hearing.
The seized alcohol was forfeited to the state comptroller’s office.