Johnnie’s Liquor Store defendants have applied for expungement of their criminal records stemming from a May, 2016 drug bust, Bellmawr Police Chief William Walsh said at Council’s June 28, 2018 meeting.
The liquor license for Rakesh, Inc. t/a Johnnie’s Liquor Store and several other liquor licenses are up for renewal and were approved at the meeting.
Chief Walsh said one of the licenses that is an issue is Johnnie’s Liquors because of arrests that were made two years ago involving narcotics. “At the time, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) told us it was in our best interest not to take the liquor license away from them because it would be handled by the administrative end of the ABC,” he said.
Five individuals were arrested as a result of the 2016 drug bust. Last year, defendants, Dominique Green and Armando Rosario, received five years probation.
The three defendants from Johnnie’s Liquors, Jalat Patel, Dhanaajay Patel, and Rakesh Patel, all pleaded guilty to various violations and received Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI). As part of the conditions of their PTI, those defendants were required to forfeit $57,752.77 in money seized.
Chief Walsh said: “In the meantime, the defendants in the case that owned the liquor store applied for expungement of their criminal records. We had to appeal that because we didn’t want them to get their criminal records expunged. So, it’s still in litigation with the ABC.”
The ABC has administrative charges, but they have not been heard yet because of the expungement appeal, Chief Walsh explained. “But, the ABC has the same information for us: that we should not suspend their license because they can’t act if a license is suspended by us. Then, [the ABC] can’t get involved because it is not an active ABC license.”
If the liquor license wasn’t issued, it would prolong the case and could be a liability for the Borough. The case would have to be dropped because it’s no longer an active license. Apparently, if they can’t have their records expunged, they’ll be wanting to look for money for ex-felons to start a business in hopes of licensing a new store and renewing the current one when the expiry is due.
Chief Walsh said: “At this point, it is still in progress. The ABC is administratively going to go after them and it has to go through the channels of the criminal justice system, which sometimes takes forever. It is still on our radar. We keep in contact with them and also the prosecutor’s office about the expungement case and we have appealed that. So we are just waiting for it to go the next step.”
During the public portion of the meeting, SJO asked about potential conflicts regarding Mayor Frank Filipek and Councilman Ray Bider voting on matters relating to the Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency (BDA) since both were appointed commissioners to the BDA.
Councilman Ray Bider stated that he resigned from the BDA at last month’s council meeting.
The Resolutions and Ordinances pertaining to the BDA are still tabled.
In other matters, a resident addressed mayor and council about several concerns — among them growing debt. He also requested prayer and a moment of silence for the fallen.
To view the supporting Resolutions, click here.
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