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Selectmen Vote to Suspend Scioli's License, Reduce Hours

Milford Selectmen voted 2-0 Monday to suspend an alcohol pouring license for Scioli's Pizza Bar for three weeks, and shorten its hours, but agreed to have it take effect following an appeal by the bar owner to a state commission.

Milford Selectmen voted Monday to suspend the alcohol license for for three weeks, and shorten the closing hours of the bar and restaurant to 11 p.m. daily for six months.

The 2-0 decision will be suspended, however, to allow the business to appeal the action to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, a state panel that oversees regulations for bars and restaurants.

The vote followed a three-hour hearing on Scioli's license that included testimony from customers and employees, as well as police officials, about a March 24 altercation outside the bar, involving a bouncer, that seriously injured two patrons.

saying they were assaulted initially by the bouncer then-employed by Scioli's. Some witnesses to the incident said they then were kicked when they were on the ground, but accounts differed as to who did the kicking. And some witnesses, including the owner of the bar, as well as a former bouncer, said only punches were thrown.

One of the customers had to have reconstructive surgery on his left eye, where the orbital bone was fractured. The other patron sustained a broken nose and still had visible bruising Monday below his right eye, more than a month after the incident.

The accused bouncer, Paul Cassansanta, did not attend the hearing. Milford Police have filed a criminal application in , seeking a court summons to charge him with assault and battery, as well as aggravated assault and battery.

Throughout the hearing, the attorney for the restaurant emphasized that the employee, not the bar owner, was at fault in the altercation that ended in the two patrons being hospitalized for their injuries. Town Counsel Gerald Moody, who presented the town's case for sanctions against the business, said the management had not trained its security employees and the resulting melee was "an abject violation" of ABCC rules.

The bar's owner, Stephen Scioli, attended the hearing, and said he was "mortified" when he saw Cassansanta either punch or shove the customer who he had been talking with, and who had been ordered out of the bar by the bouncer about 30 minutes prior. He said he had always told his security employees to not put their hands on anyone. And he told the bouncer that night to go back inside the bar.

"It happened so fast, I don't know if it was a push or a punch," Scioli said.

Once the customer was on the ground, someone from the smoking area came over and kicked him while he was on the ground, Scioli said. Other witnesses said several people were kicking the customer.

Scioli did not call police after the assault, because he said he knew someone else was calling the police. But his statements were challenged by a Hopedale EMT, who was off-duty and at the bar with his friends. Christopher Lynn told town officials Monday that while he was making the 911 call, Scioli was telling him to not call the police.

"He said 'Don't call the police'," Lynn said.

Scioli denied this account.

Following the conclusion of the hearing, Louis Cassis, the Quincy-based attorney for Scioli's, argued unsuccessfully for a warning, for what he described as a first offense by the establishment. Cassis said a license suspension would be preferable to a shortening of business hours, which he said would put the restaurant and bar out of business. Customers won't come to a bar for a night with friends if they know it closes early, Cassis said.

"You might as well take the license; it's the end of them," Cassis said.

Moody, who recommended the rollback of operating hours, said the witness statements made clear that the bar had served intoxicated patrons. "You have the person who was intoxicated, and his friend, saying he was served while he was intoxicated," Moody said.

Cassis succeeded in getting Selectmen Brian Murray and Dino DeBartolomeis to suspend the enactment of both the hours curtailment and the license suspension, until he could appeal the decision to the ABCC. Selectmen initially had voted for the license suspension to take effect May 11, and the hours reduction to take effect May 4.

Selectman Bill Buckley recused himself from the hearing, and the vote, based on a recommendation from the town's ethics commission. He has knowledge of one of the people involved, Buckley said, without identifying the person.

Before the vote, DeBartolomeis spoke extensively on what he called a pattern of police responses to Scioli's for the past two years, for issues including fights, assaults and larcenies.

According to a summary from Milford Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin, police were called to the bar 33 times through calendar years 2010, 2011 and the first three months of this year, more than any other establishment in town. The Turtle Tavern, the bar with the next largest number, had 23 incidents in that time frame.

The bar's management had demonstrated "irresponsibility" in supervising and training the employees, DeBartolomeis said. "It's a place that's out of control."

"Any Friday or Saturday night, somebody can get hurt," DeBartolomeis said. "It's a simple case of employees and employers not watching the store."

Tony May 01, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Oh my God!
Mary MacDonald (Editor) May 01, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Please keep the comments focused on the article, or the issue, which is the Scioli's license.
John Q May 02, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Wow Milford patch is obviously loving this. Kick em when they're down I guess. Way to open the floodgates on facebook and allow people to take shots at the sciolis when they have absolutely no clue what they are talking about. What a joke. I bet this post doesn't last 5 minutes on here since I'm not condemning sciolis bar.

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