Bar liquor license revocation appeal pending as suspects separately face trial

An impressionistic view of Arcata's famed Tavern Row by Union Editor Jack Durham.

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

SACRAMENTO/ARCATA  – The director of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agency has adopted an administrative law judge’s proposed decisions that liquor licenses for The Sidelines and Toby and Jack’s bars be revoked.

The revocations had been recommended by Judge Alberto Roldan in twin decisions issued Nov. 2. His rulings followed a four-day hearing in Eureka during which ABC detailed numerous drug violations at the two bars, the result of an extensive undercover investigation.

Roldan and Appelsmith’s decisions may be read here and here.

ABC contended that the drug dealing occurred with the knowledge and cooperation of Sal Costanzo, owner of license holder Costanzo’s Genco Olive Oil Company. Costanzo and his representatives denied the allegations.

If uncontested, the ABC decision would end the bars’ ability to serve alcohol in 30 days. But Costanzo plans to contest the ruling, and the bars’ liquor licenses will remain in effect until the appeal is processed.

“Yes, definitely,” Costanzo said. “We’re going to appeal.”

Costanzo has 120 days from the Nov. 27 date of the ABC Certificates of Decision issuance in which to file his appeal. Like the original administrative law hearing in Eureka during which the matter was heard, the appeal hearing would be open to the public. It would be held before the ABC Appeals Board in Sacramento.

The day after the ruling, it was business as usual at the Sidelines and Toby and Jack’s, where Mike Costanzo, Sal’s son, was dealing with a leaky sink, a broken door and a noisy cooler.

He couldn’t predict what might happen beyond the next round of ABC hearings, but was glad to be open for the holidays. “We’re looking at all the options,” he said.

Ten individuals with suspected involvement, including bartenders, bar security and customers, have been charged with various drug offenses stemming from the undercover probe.

All but one are being tried together, according to Deputy District Attorney Trent Timm, and he expects all of the cases to eventually be consolidated.

During the ABC hearing, Costanzo’s attorney, Patrick Griego, had attempted to obtain testimony from those charged separately to assist in the defense.

But they declined to do so while their criminal trials were underway, citing the Fifth Amendment right not to self-incriminate. It’s possible that their testimony in the ABC hearing could have been cited in the criminal trials, thus the refusal to testify.

It’s not clear how long the criminal proceeding will take, nor whether any of the defendants will be able to testify in the ABC appeal. A preliminary hearing in the criminal cases is set for Jan. 10 in Humboldt County Superior Court.


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