Attorney General and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Announce Charges and Investigation of Popular College Bars
TRENTON –– Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre today announced actions to crack down on two establishments near Rutgers University and Seton Hall University accused of serving underage drinkers.
The ABC has notified Scarlet Pub in New Brunswick that it is seeking to revoke its license in connection with a July 2011 raid that resulted in the arrest of 26 people. Charges are also pending against Cryan’s Beef and Ale House in South Orange following the arrest of six underage patrons and two staff members during a sweep by the ABC in October.
“Underage drinking is a public safety issue, and it is vital that we send a clear message to license holders and those who are underage that it will not be tolerated,” Attorney General Chiesa said. “It’s important to protect the young people of New Jersey with enforcement actions like these, which deter licensees from selling to those under 21.”
In July of 2011, ABC investigators arrested 26 people, including two Scarlet Pub bartenders and a bouncer. Twenty-two patrons were charged with underage drinking, including four who were also charged with presenting a fake identification card. One additional patron was charged strictly with presenting a fake identification. Another arrested patron was also charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana. Those arrested ranged in age from 17 to 20. Scarlet Pub is located near the Rutgers University campus. The arrests were made after ABC investigators received a tip that the bar was crowded with underage drinkers.
On October 21, the Division informed the owners of the Scarlet Pub, NSAS Inc., of its intention to revoke its license. Four days later, ABC investigators visited the pub again and arrested an underage patron along with two bartenders, including Thomas Holman, 28, of Somerset, who had been issued a summons for serving alcohol to an underage person in the first incident.
“Licensees face serious consequences when they choose to serve alcohol to underage drinkers,” said Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre. “The most serious punishment the ABC can level is revocation, and we reserve that consequence for the most extreme violators.”
An anonymous tip also led to the arrests at Cryan’s Beef and Ale House, located less than a mile from Seton Hall University. ABC investigators were observing Cryan’s on October 18 when Ryan Buckman, 20, of Lima, N.Y., and an 18-year-old Toms River woman walked out of the establishment visibly intoxicated. According to investigators, both struggled to maintain their balance, and at one point, the woman stumbled into the path of an oncoming vehicle in a nearby street. Investigators approached both and later determined neither was 21. During questioning, the teenager lost consciousness and was later transported by ambulance from Cryan’s to a local hospital.
In addition to Buckman, ABC detectives arrested five other underage patrons during their investigation: Kelsey Marie Nichols, 20, of Morristown; Danielle Dericks, 19, of Pompton Plains; Sarah Marelli, 20, of Hazlet; Christina Caporrino, 20, of Hazlet; and Michael Gabriel, 20, of Springfield. ABC investigators later questioned two Cryan’s staff members, bartender Jeffry Varela and busboy Alexander Ledesma, both of South Orange. Ledesma, 20, was drinking during his shift and admitted to investigators that Varela had been serving him. Ledesma was arrested and Varela was issued a summons for serving alcohol to an underage person.
A review of the surveillance video of the bar, provided by Cryan’s management that night, revealed that a table had been set up just inside the entrance of the licensed premises to collect money for an open bar promotion. Cryan’s management admitted that it allowed a sorority to collect $20 per person for the two-hour event. All-You-Can-Drink promotions are not permitted under ABC law.
Director Halfacre said administrative charges will be filed against Cryan’s license holder, 24 First Street Inc., after the ABC investigation is concluded.