The owners of Tiffany’s Restaurant in Toms River have agreed to sell the establishment’s liquor license rather than contest charges by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control that their bartenders served drinks to visibly intoxicated patrons on three separate occasions, ABC Director Michael Halfacre announced today.
On two of those occasions, two female Tiffany’s patrons were killed in separate drunk driving crashes. In the third, an intoxicated male motorcyclist was injured in a crash.
Bruno D’Uva Sr. and Bruno D’Uva Jr., both of whom own 30 percent of the license, and Lisa Barna, who owns 40 percent, must sell their interests in the license by July 24, 2015 and pay a fine of $200,000. ABC laws prohibit licensed establishments from selling alcoholic beverages to any patrons actually or visibly intoxicated.
Tiffany’s has four other locations in New Jersey, Peaquanock, Pine Brook, Morris Plains and Union. The liquor licenses at those locations are not impacted by this settlement.
“Having an alcoholic beverage license carries the responsibility of monitoring how much your patrons are drinking and ensuring that a patron is not served to the point they are intoxicated or appear intoxicated,” said Halfacre. “Keeping a watchful eye and cutting off patrons may not seem like good business at the time, but it is in the long run. Intoxicated patrons become intoxicated drivers, and those drivers can become tragedies.”
According to police reports, around 2 a.m. on May 12, 2010, 40-year-old Kelly Walck was killed when the car she was riding in crashed into a utility pole on Route 37 in Toms River. The driver of that car, Laura Nelson, and another passenger, David Sharrer, each had BACs more than three times the legal limit to drive. Nelson, who is serving four years in state prison for vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated, said in a sworn statement to ABC investigators that she had been drinking with Walck and Sharrer at Tiffany’s for approximately 90 minutes before she got behind the wheel.
Less than three months later, Toni Lebert, 31, was killed when she struck a NJ Transit bus around 1 a.m. on July 23. Her BAC was .255. According to sworn witness statements, Lebert drank at Tiffany’s for nearly three hours, went to her boyfriend’s house and later crashed on the Garden State Parkway.
After leaving Tiffany’s on November 9, 2006, Frederick Voss, then 43, struck a car on Hooper Avenue while operating his motorcycle and suffered severe injuries, according to police reports. Toms River police later arrested him for driving while intoxicated. His BAC was .196.
Halfacre said the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control works with local law enforcement to identify and investigate licensed establishments that appear to have recurring cases of arrested drunk drivers admitting to have patronized those bars and restaurants.