ST. CHARLES – Acting in his capacity as liquor commissioner, Mayor Ray Rogina on Monday found The Filling Station guilty of allowing patrons to leave its premises with alcohol Aug. 16.
The finding came after an hourlong, informal hearing in the St. Charles City Council Chambers that included testimony from a city police officer, Filling Station owner Peter Milligan and the employee involved in the incident.
Milligan asked for the hearing during the St. Charles Liquor Control Commission’s meeting last month.
It was the commission’s first hearing on a liquor license violation. In addition to allowing the prosecutor and Milligan – who represented himself – call and cross-examine witnesses, Rogina let members of the commission ask questions.
Testimony indicated that a man and a woman left the Filling Station near closing time Aug. 16 with glasses of alcohol concealed on their bodies. A police officer discovered the beverages while he tried to stop the couple for an unrelated reason.
Waitress Lauren Jankowski, who was charged that night to ensure customers didn’t leave with alcohol, admitted she took her eyes off the pair as she worked to dismantle a patio umbrella.
“I took my eyes off them for maybe 10 seconds,” she said, noting the pair abruptly left as she performed that task.
Milligan said in his closing statements that he didn’t argue with the alleged violation.
“I don’t dispute that they walked out with that alcohol,” Milligan said. “I’m not disputing that.”
Comparing the case to shoplifting, Milligan asked the commission whether it was reasonable to fine him for customers leaving the premises with concealed alcohol.
“You can’t search everybody,” he said. “It’s not reasonable.”
The commission discussed the issue in executive session, after which Rogina returned with the guilty finding. He did not announce a penalty but said he would submit a written ruling to Milligan within seven to 10 days.