Published in the October 13, 2016 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen found last night that there was not sufficient evidence of overserving alcohol to warrant a suspension of the liquor license of Caryn’s Sports Bar & Restaurant at 395-397 Main St. The decision came at a hearing where the board heard from both the Wakefield Police and the owner of Caryn’s with respect to the events of Sept. 17, 2016.
Wakefield Police Officer Matthew Powers testified that he was sitting in his cruiser parked on Richardson Street monitoring the downtown area at about 1:15 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 17. At that time he observed a man stagger across Main Street from the general direction of Caryn’s and approach the driver’s side of a car.
Powers said that the man appeared to have trouble opening the car and wound up opening the trunk of the car, which he then could not close. Powers watched the man drive off with the trunk still open and then hit a curb on Albion Street. Powers attempted to pull the car over but the driver continued down Albion Street before eventually pulling over on Cedar Street.
When he spoke to the driver, a Cedar Street resident, Powers detected a strong odor of alcohol. The man was unsteady on his feet when exiting the car, Powers said, and was speaking in a slow, deliberate manner. Powers conducted a series of field sobriety tests and based on those results and his observations, he placed the man under arrest for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and failing to stop for a police officer.
Powers said that the man’s behavior became extremely belligerent while being booked at Police Headquarters, including spitting at police officers. He was additionally charged with assault and battery on a police officer.
During booking, Powers said, police found a receipt in the man’s pocket from Caryn’s for the purchase of one drink at 11:48 p.m.
Police Lt. Steven Skory was also at last night’s hearing and told the selectmen that the behavior of this intoxicated individual raised serious concerns for the health and safety of not just police officers but also the public.
“It’s not something we want to deal with,” Skory said.
In response to a question from board chairman Patrick Glynn, Skory said that this was the first alcohol issue related to Caryn’s that police have had to deal with.
Caryn’s owner, Leanne Wheeler of Hopkins Street in Wakefield, was represented by attorney Brian McGrail. McGrail first acknowledged that what the police went through that night was “horrible.” But he said that those events should be separated from the purpose of the hearing, which was to determine if this individual was already intoxicated when he was served at Caryn’s.
McGrail then asked his client a series of questions to elicit her testimony as to what took place that night.
Wheeler said that she is at the bar 90 percent of the time that it is open, is often the lead bartender and always monitors the service of alcohol to customers. She said that she recognized the man when shown his photo in the police report as someone who had been in the bar once before the night in question.
Wheeler said that the man arrived at Caryn’s at about 11:30 that night. She said that she served him the drink and that he did not appear to be intoxicated at that time. However, Wheeler said that she would not serve him a second drink and asked him to leave because he was being rude and bothering other customers. She said that he left Caryn’s at about midnight.
She said that the man never re-entered the bar that night, but did show up at the door at 1 a.m., as Caryn’s was closing. He was informed that the bar was closed and he was not allowed back in, Wheeler said.
Wheeler said that she and all of her employees who serve alcohol are TIPS certified.
Selectman Ann Santos asked Officer Powers to confirm that he had seen the man coming from the direction of Caryn’s before driving off. Powers affirmed that was true.
Selectman Tony Longo asked Powers if any alcohol was found in the car. Powers said there was not. Longo asked Wheeler if anyone else at the bar has purchased any drinks for the man in question. Wheeler said that she was “fairly confident” that no one else had bought the man a drink that night.
Selectman Paul DiNocco pointed out that there were at least four other bars within short walking distance that the man could have gone to during the hour between leaving Caryn’s at midnight and re-appearing at the door at 1 a.m.
Santos said that based on what the board had heard, she did not think that the board had enough evidence to say that Caryn’s had overserved the man that night.
“I would be uncomfortable ruling based on what’s been presented,” Santos said.
McGrail maintained that the only link to Caryn’s was a receipt for one drink followed by the man’s arrest 90 minutes later.
“The only thing relevant,” McGrail said, “is, ‘was he intoxicated when he was served at Caryn’s?’” McGrail said that he understood how the police came to their conclusion after the man was seen walking from the general direction of Caryn’s but reminded the board that the man had tried to get back in at 1 a.m. but was turned away.
Glynn said that based on what he had heard, it sounded like Wheeler “was on top of things and did what was right,” as did the police.
Glynn called for a vote on whether Caryn’s had violated the law by serving an intoxicated customer but no member of the board was convinced that Caryn’s had been guilty of any violaton.
Board members and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio thanked the police and urged Wheeler to call the police if problems arise with customers in the future.