Commission Suspends Night Liquor Serving By Westgate Restaurant

Attorney Joseph C. Edwards, chairman of the Haverhill License Commission.

Haverhill License Commission Chairman Joseph C. Edwards.

For seven nights, beginning Sunday, Oriental Gardens at Westgate Center must cease serving alcohol, after the Haverhill License Commission ruled Thursday the restaurant worked to thwart a police criminal investigation there.

The hearing was called initially for a Jan. 2 incident where, Haverhill Police alleged, an off-duty employee of the restaurant appeared to be intoxicated. However, with manager Ivan Yee’s agreement, police also presented a March 31 incident where a patron was beaten unconscious and robbed.

“(The victim) stated that he was approached by employees and management people of the restaurant who asked him not to contact the police,” according to a police report read by Lt. Robert P. Pistone. “He was told they would lose their license if he called police.”

Yee denied the allegation, but Detective Sean Scharneck testified the victim’s statement was credible. The detective said at least one of the persons involved had been served four Mai Tai drinks during a short period of time.

Scharneck said he asked for the business’ surveillance video to confirm or deny the story, but was told it wasn’t available because of a hard drive failure. Yee offered to produce receipts showing the ordering of a replacement part and, thus, proving the video system had failed earlier.

Commissioners also told Yee the restaurant is being penalized for repeated violations of over serving liquor to patrons. Chairman Joseph C. Edwards cited previous violations for serving a minor, over serving and allowing an illegality in the business during 2015 and 2016 alone. The restaurant and bar was further placed on probation for a year as commissioners agreed to consider revoking its liquor license altogether if more violations occur during that time.

Police Officer Gillian Brignac also testified about the Jan. 2 incident where, she said, a fight broke out. The officer said she was unable to interview one witness because the patron was intoxicated.

“I couldn’t get one word out of her,” Brignac told commissioners.

The motion to suspend serving alcohol at 6 p.m., next week, was made by Commissioner Tim Coco and seconded by Gerald A. Sewell.

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