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American Legion post's liquor license under scrutiny after fight

Posted by Michele Morgan Bolton  June 3, 2010 09:27 AM

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Selectmen are wading through a series of allegations to determine whether management of American Legion Post 18 violated the state's alcohol law on March 21 by serving an intoxicated person, failing to keep decorum, and allegedly refusing to call 911 when asked after a woman was injured in a fight while attending a karaoke party in the members' lounge.

A hearing that began last week has been continued until June 8.

The allegations follow a separate incident last fall in which the organization's license was suspended for one day after it was determined that patrons were drinking outside at the post, located at 155 Eastern Avenue, according to selectmen chairwoman Sarah MacDonald.

If the charges are founded, the American Legion post could face a suspension of its liquor license for between six and 10 days, she said, or more.

"The Board of Selectmen is known for taking alcohol offenses very seriously,'' she said.

According to MacDonald, the stripped-down version of the story that has many moving parts surrounds a fight that allegedly took place in the post's parking lot that night and that was reported to police two days later.

Among the allegations submitted in several other police reports, the alleged victim in the scuffle asked the bartender on duty to call 911 to help her, and he refused. During a hearing last week, post management adamantly denied that allegation, MacDonald said.

After the incident, police later allegedly found several other people, including the accused assailant, apparently inebriated on the property, complicating the case.

The alleged victim has also indicated plans to sue the American Legion, MacDonald said.

"According to the bartender, who testified, we don't believe the people involved were members,'' MacDonald said.

Which raises another issue, she said: Nonmembers are required to be signed in by members, "and the Legion could not produce a record of that sign-in."

"We've been having a discussion around that membership piece because we know that membership to veterans organizations is dwindling, and they are taking on other members,'' MacDonald said. "So one question is, what is the business model for the organization?"

The Legion has functions already planned through the fall and does a healthy business, she said: "So this brings up the issue of what is their mission, and who do they serve?"

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at mmbolton1@verizon.net.

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