Modest fine for Third Base prompting review of license board's rules

Modest fine for Third Base prompting review of license board's rules

CUMBERLAND - Town Council member Bill Murray this week said he's taking a get-tough policy toward owners of drinking establishments who can't control fights, even though the latest episode - at Third Base on High Street - resulted in only a $175 fine.

The Board of License Commissioners is made up of the same seven members of the Town Council and meets only to hear issues related to liquor licenses. Murray, a freshman councilor who is running for mayor, heads the board.

Last Wednesday, members heard Police Chief John Desmarais describe an April 6 fight at the 422 High St. club that's owned by former Town Council member Tony Alburquerque.

"We're trying to send out a signal," Murray told the board that night and later to The Breeze. "We've got two in a row of these incidents and we're going to come down hard on (all establishments)."

He added, "We're not sending a strong enough signal at just a slap on the wrist at $175 or $250."

The earlier fight happened at the Lusitana Club and resulted in a $250 fine.

It was Chief Desmarais who recommended the Third Base fine but only, he said, because he was following the commissioners' rule that all liquor establishment offenses are wiped off the books after three years. So even though this bar was cited in 2007 for serving under-aged patrons and in 2009 for being open after hours, the incidents weren't considered in determining the fine, the chief said, because they pre-date three years. Second offenses can lead to a license suspension.

Murray later said the commission will be reviewing the rules soon and the three-year rule is one he said he'll recommend changing.

Alburquerque accepted the recommended fine, thereby waiving his right to a full hearing, but did tell the board that he believes he and his staff responded appropriately.

"We did everything we were supposed to do," he said.

Council President James Higgins did remind the board that several years ago the board voted against any fine for Stephanie's Lounge after determining the staff had called the police appropriately in a similar situation.

The chief, who had opposed the Stephanie's decision, responded, "Yes, but the responsibility is on owners to handle the fight. Two people were injured as a result of this incident."

Two individuals were also charged, he added. John Soares, 42, of Old River Road in Lincoln, was charged with simple assault or battery against Amanda Giguere of Minerva Avenue, Cumberland, and Stephen Shippee, 28, of 77 Sunset Ave., North Providence, was charged with simple assault or battery against Maryann Ferreira of 45 Old River Road, Lincoln. The men have a pending court date.

There were no guns or drugs involved, according to Desmarais.

The argument began between two women, said Alburquerque, who testified that he stopped the verbal fight and sent them outdoors where it began again.

"They were really going at it," he said.

According to the police report, the physical fight broke out between the men they were with. One of the women was struck when she came between them. The other woman was also struck during the brawl.

"I didn't want to see it get out of control, especially with the neighbors, and that's why we called police," Alburquerque said.

Councilor Art Lambi noted that "one witness said everyone fighting and another one used the word riot."

"I understand and respect you as a businessman, but I have to support the chief," he said.

The vote was unanimous.

In other licensing action, Andrew's Bistro on Mendon Road won permission to serve alcoholic beverages outdoors provided the drinks are in conjunction with meals.