Violations revealed at bars in Waukesha

Published on: 1/7/2014

A one-day sweep from the Waukesha Police Department and agents from the state's Department of Revenue at 13 establishments in November revealed multiple violations.

Of the inspections, 10 had serious violations that could have warranted citations. Three had violations that would constitute a warning, according to Special Agent Erin Dorn.

No citations were given because Specialist Andy Schmidt of the Waukesha Police Department said "this was more of a test to see what type of violations turned up."

But Alderman Steve Johnson, chairman of the Ordinance and License Committee, said many suffered "some financial loss" due to the confiscation of contaminated alcohol or tobacco that was purchased in violation to state law.

"It was a financial hit, but it could have been a lot worse," Johnson said.

The operation, which took place Nov. 14, was planned for several weeks. However, the initial planning began in mid-July.

The inspections focused on establishments that had failed alcohol compliance checks, had numerous calls for services, or had other complaints that were taken by the Department of Revenue. But Schmidt said some of those inspected were not targeted because of past problems, but rather because they were open at the time.

In total, 416 bottles of alcohol, beer and liquor combined were seized due to illegal purchase, 521 cigars, wraps or cigarettes were taken due to illegal purchase, two individuals were bartending without any type of license and numerous other violations were discovered that would have gone unnoticed had there not been a sweep.

"That's kind of scary," Johnson said of the contaminations. "Every location had some violation; some were not as drastic as others. But that gives us an indication of what is going on out there."

Schmidt said he was surprised with "the amount of violations and the severity of some of them, like the mislabeling of beer from one tap to the other and the amount of alcohol that was seized through illegal purchasing. And it was surprising to see the amount of cigarettes we confiscated based on lack of records."

According to Schmidt, Dorn and her partner Special Agent Georgeann King of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue Criminal Investigation Section Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement Unit conducted an inspection at Kicker's Pub & Grub, 1726 SW Ave., after hearing about the failed compliance checks and the incidents that had followed.

After the Kicker's inspection, Dorn discovered her department had not made any notable inspections within the City of Waukesha in about five to 10 years and there had only been about five inspections during this time. A list of establishments were then inspected and many violations followed.

· The Blue Ribbon, 739 W. St. Paul Ave.

The violations included one bottle of liquor contaminated and there was a preservation of records violation as invoices need to be addressed to the licensee name. According to Schmidt's memo to Police Chief Russell Jack, contamination is viewed as bugs or other "foreign objects that are not meant for human consumption." In a later interview, Schmidt said contamination could include fruit flies and pieces of cork. "It's not an uncommon thing," Schmidt said. "It's a problem because it's a violation but I don't think it's necessarily the biggest problem. The illegal alcohol and illegal cigarettes or mislabeling of beer are the bigger issues."

· Bottle Stop, 507 S. Grand Ave.

Items seized included 361 Cigarillos. Violations include a license not being posted or framed and invoices were kept at the home of the owner or in his personal vehicle. There was also a violation in the preservation of records as all were kept in a box and not separated by vendor, product or date.

· Cue Club, 2454 N. Grandview Blvd.

Violations include the bar being told to sell from the original container and not to dilute liquor or refill the bottle. Moreover, 22 bottles of liquor were contaminated. There was also a preservation of records violation.

· Donnie Boys, 362 W. Main St.

A violation occurred with a Miller Lite tap on a Natural Ice beer barrel/keg. Four bottles of liquor were contaminated and an infraction occurred in the preservation of records as not all of the records were kept on the premises.

· Fuzzy's Sports Pub and Grill, 627 E. Main St.

Violations included an unlicensed bartender, a bottle of liquor contaminated and records were kept at the owner's home, not the bar.

· MC's Sports Bar, 711 Morgan Ave.

A violation with the preservation of records as invoices weren't updated with the licensee name.

· Montecito Ristorante Lounge, 257 W. Broadway Ave.

Violations included evidence of burned marijuana in the back office area, 13 contaminated bottles of liquor, the license was not posted or present on the premise, 13 bottles were discovered to have been refilled, and failing to purchase liquor from a valid Wisconsin distributor as 29 bottles of liquor, a funnel and retail purchase receipts were confiscated. Montecito also didn't have proper preservation of records.

The sweep also found two firearms in the back office after its owner, Dale Palkowski, had told police that there were no firearms present.

"Although not illegal, it was troubling that Palkowski again lied to law enforcement, thus continuing his pattern of previously documented behavior," Schmidt wrote in his review.

· Mutts Bar and Grille, 214 E. Main St.

Violations included one contaminated bottle of liquor, purchasing from a Class A retailer and not a valid Wisconsin distributor (51 bottles were confiscated) and a preservation of records infraction.

· Ryans Pub, 1220 The Strand

There was an unlicensed bartender, eight bottles were not purchased from a valid Wisconsin distributor, four bottles of liquor were contaminated, two were refilled and no tobacco license was issued and the establishment was selling cigarettes without a license.

· Salty Toad, 921 Friedman Drive

Violations included agents finding an empty bottle behind the bar that had been refilled with water to "train" new employees on pouring and five-gallon water jugs had premixed drinks and premixed Jell-O shots. The memo says the mixtures are only allowed to be mixed for one day and then need to be disposed of. Several bottles of liquor were contaminated.

· The Lincoln Pub, 506 Lincoln Ave.

Violations included not purchasing liquor from a valid Wisconsin distributor. However, Schmidt says that due to the level of cooperation, the 121 bottles were not confiscated. He said, if destroyed, this would have shut down The Lincoln Pub. But the several bottles of liquor that were contaminated were confiscated and there was a preservation of records infraction.

· The Hilltop, 902 N. Grandview

Violations included nine bottles of liquor contaminated and the unlawful possession of cigarettes.

· Toon City, 412 W. Main St.

Violations included not purchasing liquor from a valid Wisconsin distributor. As a result, 146 bottles of beer or liquor were confiscated. There was also evidence of refilling three empty and used bottles. Having no tobacco license resulted in 160 cigars being confiscated. There was also a preservation of records infraction.

Six of the 13 bars also had illegal video gambling machines present, a violation of state law.

“A strong message was delivered to all establishments within the city that illegal activity whether at a municipal or state level was not going to be tolerated,” Schmidt said in his memo. “With approximately 147 alcohol licenses that have been issued within the city, it would be premature to say that a sample of 13 establishment inspections and the subsequent violations would be considered ‘normal’ or ‘high.’ ”

But Johnson added there are likely other establishments in Waukesha with infractions.

“When there are violations at virtually every place, the ones the Police Department didn’t get to most likely have some violations also,” Johnson said. “Most of (these 13) have issues with receipts that police can follow up on with the rest of establishments at any time because they’re aware of what to look for.”

Schmidt, who said he believes the WPD made “good professional connections" through this sweep, said he anticipates another one in the future. He added the city can get these violations in check.

“Continuation of compliance checks and state inspections, along with working next to the Fire Department and the Ordinance and Licensing Committee will begin to not only expose problems but also bring them under control,” Schmidt said.