Wednesday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting was mostly devoted to the first round of hearings of the alleged liquor license violations by eight businesses in Mansfield. The four businesses at the meeting were Asia Grill and Sushi, Cork’s Fine Wine and Liquors, Kanku, and Cibo Matto.
Town counsel Paul DeRensis informed the board that he, police chief Ronald Sellon, and the businesses had reached a plea bargain with each business to be submitted for the selectmen's’ approval.
Selectman George Dentino took issue with a plea bargain had already been made without the selectman’s knowledge. “It looks to me that step has been added here that circumvents liquor licensing board,” meaning the Board of Selectmen, he said.
Ross explained that this was common procedure in a court of law and that judges are not informed beforehand of plea bargains. He added that it was up to the selectmen whether or to accept the deals.
Each hearing included testimony from Sellon, Mansfield Detective Sergeant Larry Crossman, who conducted the sting, owners, managers, or representatives from each business, and questions from the Selectmen.
The proposal from Sellon included mandatory TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) training for each violator and two follow-up compliance checks within the next six months for each business.
The Selectmen voted for the proposals three to one to select the recommendation for Sellon for each establishment, except for Cibo Matto, with Selectman Doug Annino as the no vote in each case.
Annino recused himself from the Cibo Matto hearing because he had had litigation with them in the past, so that motion was carried 3-0.“I’m extremely upset that there were eight violations. That’s a lot of violations after a letter had already been sent out. It’s inexcusable,” he said. “People make mistakes. but this is a big mistake. I’m very upset. I don’t really think the recommendation is severe enough, considering the seriousness of the violation.”
The only establishment that almost go a one-day suspension in addition to Sellon's proposal was Kanku, because the person who sold the liquor was not TIPS certified, but that motion failed 2-2. Selectman Kevin Moran was absent from the meeting, so three votes were needed to carry a motion.
With Kanku, there was initially a motion to accept the Chief's proposal, which initially failed 2-2, but ended up carrier 3-1 when the selectmen didn't agree on the one-day license suspension.
Selectman Jess Aptowitz told representatives from each business that "we don't want to see you back here," implying a harsher punishment if that were to happen.