UPDATE: Licensing Board ordered a four-day suspension: Three for serving the minors, one for owner Joseph Cimino's actions during the police investigation. Cimino can appeal to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
It was bad enough, police say, that they caught four underage Northeastern students inside Daisy Buchanan's with Bud Lights. Even worse was that owner Joseph Cimino tried to keep them from questioning one of the four - after he had already tried to flee out the back - two detectives told the Boston Licensing Board yesterday
Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey says Cimino's action, which included refusing to sign acknowledgment he'd been served a citation, was so egregious he wrote him up both for the underage drinking and for "hindering enforcement agents of the Board," something he said he has never done in several years of enforcing the city's liquor and entertainment regulations.
At a hearing yesterday, however, Cimino denied trying to hinder anything. He said the guy he told to "just leave" appeared to be 23 and that he did not realize he was one of the people police suspected of being an underage drinker, but that instead he thought the guy was just a nosy patron wondering what all the fuss was about.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take against the 240A Newbury Street restaurant.
Mulvey and Det. William Gallagher were on a routine inspection on Sept. 13 when they noticed a table of four young looking people with beers. They asked for IDs and one of the four tried to skip out through a back door, Mulvey said, adding he managed to grab him. Gallagher said he warned the four that he wanted to see real IDs and that if they gave him fake ones, he'd lock them up. Two immediately broke down and confessed, the other two tried to pass off one fake ID and one real Massachusetts license belonging to an older brother.
Mulvey said that as he was questioning the failed escapee, Cimino went up to him and told him "Just leave."
Cimino, though, said he approached to watch the interrogation; he felt it was his right as the restaurant owner. However, he said he thought the guy was somebody who was just generally asking what was going on and who told him he felt anxious with all the hubbub. At that point, Cimino said, he told the guy that if he felt so uncomfortable he should "just leave."
Cimino said he refused to sign for the citation because he didn't think he had done anything wrong.
"I'm insulted you'd use that kind of excuse," board member Suzanne Ianella told him. She said he's been a restaurant owner in Boston long enough - and has racked up enough citations in the past - to know that signing for the citation is just acknowledging receipt, not guilt.
Cimino and his lawyer, Karen Simao, acknowledged underage drinking may have occurred, but pleaded for mercy based on what they said were extenuating circumstances. The doorman that night - who also attended the hearing - had just a terrible night: He was taking a medication that hindered his thinking, the battery on his license scanner died and then he got a phone call from Greece that his grandfather had just died.
Cimino said he let the employee go after the incident; the doorman said he attended the hearing because he realizes his role in what happened and because Cimino had always treated him well.
Board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer, however, indicated that might not be a good enough excuse for her, because bartenders and servers should have asked the four for their licenses and not just relied on the door staff to check IDs.