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Geneva liquor violators likely to avoid hearing

GENEVA – The three businesses cited for serving underage people during the Swedish Days liquor compliance checks are expected to go to a stipulated agreement before the 1:30 p.m. Monday deadline, Geneva officials said.

Mayor Kevin Burns, who serves as the city’s liquor commissioner, said in a text he did not expect to hold a hearing at all.

“We hope to have all stipulations signed and sealed by [this] afternoon – Monday morning at the latest,” Burns said Thursday in a text. “Stipulations are always posited to the defendants, and they determine themselves whether to accept, negotiate or request a full hearing.”

The three liquor license holders cited are Michael Knuth and Nicholas Mercadante of EvenFlow Music and Spirits, 302 W. State St.; Sergio and Lindsey De Los Santos of Sergio’s Mexican Cantina, 30 W. State St.; and Michael and Ann Anastasio of Fiora’s Restaurant, 317 S. Third St.

The three businesses were part of a June 21 liquor compliance check during the annual Swedish Days Festival, in which police checked 16 establishments and beer
gardens using underage people as their agents who use their true IDs to see whether they will be refused or get served.

Police used two 19-year-olds, a male and female, police said.

The legal age to drink in Illinois is 21.

In filing charges to all three establishments’ liquor license holders, Police Chief Stephen Mexin recommended their licenses be suspended or revoked.

City Attorney Charles Radovich said officials will make the stipulations public at a hearing that has not yet been scheduled.

“Monday at 1:30 p.m. is the deadline for people to make the decision,” Radovich said. “Historically, liquor license holders have indicated they acknowledge the mistake that was made, and the liquor commissioner rendered an order – whatever fine or suspension.”

Although they are all entitled to a hearing where proof is established, Radovich said two have agreed, and officials are waiting for the third licensee to decide.

If the third licensee stipulates, Radovich said a noncontested hearing will be scheduled with a presentation of the stipulations, with fines and judgments against the licenses – suspensions or revocations – in public.

Sergio De Los Santos said he was one of the licensees that was going to stipulate, but he referred all questions to his wife Lindsey. She did not return a voice mail message.

Anastasio said he expects to come to an agreement with the city, although nothing has been finalized.

“We would like to absolve things amicably with the city. Our inclination is to stipulate,” Anastasio said. “Frankly, I don’t know the facts because I was not there and the bartender does not remember the transaction. We have complete respect for the police. We think they are honest and have done their job. It is not worth our time to contest it. This was human error by one of our employees, and he feels terrible about it.”

Anastasio said Fiora’s does not tend to attract young drinkers, “so we are not accustomed to having this problem.”

Knuth said he could not comment.

The citations were the first for Sergio’s and Fiora’s, but the second for EvenFlow in seven months.

On Nov. 17, 2012, Knuth and his partner, Mercadante, were cited for serving alcohol at 4 a.m. in violation of the city’s code.

The liquor code does not allow alcoholic beverages to be served between 2 and 6 a.m. on the licensed premises any day of the week.  

They were fined $1,000, and the license was suspended for one day.

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