UPDATE: Board orders one-day suspension.
Charbel Rizkallah acknowledges he made a mistake on Feb. 24: After a day at a Weymouth shooting range with his father, he drove up to his Belle Isle Wine and Spirits on Saratoga Street in East Boston, put his unloaded rifle in his office, set the combination lock on the office door, then went to do some errands.
Rizkallah, who had a license for the weapon, but who does not live in Boston, says he didn't know it's illegal to store such guns in Boston. And he says he definitely didn't know that one of his employees knew the combination to the lock, and never would have thought the guy would unlock the door, get the gun, pose for a photo with it in a store aisle and then post that to Facebook.
Somebody who saw the photo contacted Boston Police, who contacted the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, which began an investigation. Boston Police confiscated Rizkallah's two guns and now he awaits word on whether the Boston Licensing Board will punish him for the incident.
At a hearing before the licensing board yesterday, attended by both his father and the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigator, on loan from BPD, Rizkallah acknowledged "a lapse of judgment on my part" that has left him embarrassed, what with having to drag his father, with whom he owns other stores, into the whole thing.
Although an East Boston Municipal Court clerk found no probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Rizkallah, the board could decide tomorrow to suspend his license for one or more days. Board member Keeanna Saxon praised him for owning up, but added the board takes public safety very seriously. "Your ignorance of the law is not an excuse here," she said.
Rizkallah said he thought he was doing the right thing when he drove from the Weymouth Sportsmen's Club to his store, because he was driving a soft-top Jeep and figured his office would be a safer place to stow the rifle while he ran some errands. He said he had no idea his employee knew the combination of the lock.
Rizkallah said the man still works for him - at the Domino's next door that he owns - but that he is no longer allowed into the liquor store.