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Scioli's Argues Milford is Trying to Close it Down

An attorney for Scioli's Pizza Bar said the town is trying to shut down the business, using a three-week license suspension and early closing hours. The town's counsel said the punishment is fair, following a March incident that left two customers injured

BOSTON — An attorney representing argued Wednesday that Milford Selectmen are trying to close the business down by using an excessive punishment — a three-week license suspension and shortened operating hours.

Neither of them are warranted, said Louis Cassis, the Quincy-based attorney representing the bar and restaurant in its appeal of sanctions approved by the town in April. The town agreed to hold off until the appeals are decided.

"No one in recent history has gotten anything more than nine days," said Cassis, arguing in a hearing Wednesday, before the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, that town officials have a "bias" against Scioli's. The ABCC, a three-member panel, is expected to decide whether the three-week license suspension should be upheld. An appeal of the shortened operating hours — which will require Scioli's to close at 11 p.m. daily for six months — will be decided in Worcester Superior Court.

Milford Selectmen took action after , in which a bouncer is accused of assaulting them by punching them in a parking lot. Once they were knocked to the ground, witnesses told police they were kicked. But no one has been identified who did the kicking.

, has been charged with assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery, according to police. The latter charge relates to the severity of the injuries. One of the injured customers, a 24-year-old Hopedale resident, had to have facial reconstructive surgery for his eye.

Gerry Moody, the Milford town counsel, said if the town selectmen had wanted to close the business, they would have revoked the license. The punishment meted out was justified, he said, not only by the injuries inflicted on the customers, but also by what he called evidence of mismanagement at the restuarant.

Moody presented evidence at the hearing, including a blood alcohol measurement taken in the ambulance from one of the customers, that he said demonstrated the bar had served one of the men after he was already intoxicated.

The violations at the business were serious, Moody said: "There's enough evidence here to establish service to someone who's intoxicated."

Both of the men who were injured March 24 testified Wednesday in the trial-like hearing, before commissioner Susan Corcoran. Milford Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin, Detective Jason Ball, Scioli's owner Stephen Scioli and former bouncer James McClelland also testified in the four-hour hearing.

Corcoran asked numerous questions throughout the hearing, but her tone took a sharp turn when Scioli testified that he did not call police after the incident. He told her he had seen someone else on the phone, who told him he was calling police.

"And you're the owner of the establishment, and you're relying on some stranger to call police?" Corcoran asked.

Following the hearing, Corcoran said she would share the exhibits and testimony with the two other commissioners, and a decision would be made.

The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission may concur with the town's decision, or it may recommend the town reverse its decision, according to a commission spokeswoman. The commission can't impose a new set of restrictions, or require the town to change its decision.

The license-holder, in this case Scioli's, would have the option of appealing any commission decision to Superior Court. In these cases, the judge could strike down the decision, or allow it, but again, couldn't impose a new set of restrictions.

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