Commission Suspends Downtown Bar License After Gambling Found

Haverhill License Commissioner Gerald A. Sewell is one of three members of the Haverhill License Commission. Others are Joseph C. Edwards, chairman, and Tim Coco.

A downtown bar must close early Saturday night and then cease serving alcohol for 10 days, beginning next week, after the Haverhill License Commission determined Thursday night the owner hosted an illegal gambling machine and allowed a patron to be overserved.

Two undercover Haverhill police officers placed cash bets Aug. 15 in an electronic video slot machine at New Lantern Café, 240 Essex St. Officers won $3.25 out of a possible $750 jackpot and received a cash prize paid directly by manager Jonus Rustani. Rustani, not realizing he was speaking with police officers, acknowledged he is not allowed to pay cash prizes under state gambling laws, according to a police report.

“As far as anyone is concerned, we don’t pay out cash for the machine winnings,” Rustani reportedly told police. Detective Sgt. Andrea Fogarty then entered the business and ordered the machine confiscated. Later, at Haverhill Police Station, David William Hanley told police he is the owner of the machine and splits profits with New Lantern Café. After securing a search warrant from Haverhill District Court three days later, police found $1,866 in the machine.

Police have sought court complaints against Rustani and Hanley for operation of an illegal game or gaming device. An overview of the matter was presented by Fogarty and Detective Lt. Robert P. Pistone.

Appearing before license commissioners, Rustani admitted to paying the $3.25 cash prize from the business’ cash register.

In a separate matter, commissioners found New Lantern Café overserved liquor to a patron Aug. 31. Police described a fight between two women that took place in the bar that night. One was subsequently charged with assault and battery.

Commissioners decided the bar must close at 9 p.m., Saturday, on the overserving charge and cease selling alcohol altogether between Sept. 9 and 18.

In other business, license commissioners continued a public hearing on the issuance of “carry in”—or bring your own bottle (BYOB)—licenses. Commissioners were advised Mayor James J. Fiorentini would like to have BYOB allowed at businesses throughout the city rather than limiting the option to downtown establishments and non-profits, as required by the Haverhill City Council.

3 thoughts on “Commission Suspends Downtown Bar License After Gambling Found

  1. It’s illegal to place a bet in a bar, but it’s perfectly legal for a corrupt mayor failurentini to raise taxes and end the budget year with a $3.5MILLION surplus and then just keep the money and not return it to taxpayers.
    Innocent gambling versus outright theft and larceny….tells ya where the liberal hacks have their priorities.