Underage Patrons Served Booze

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STATE — Underage drinking at taverns near Rutgers University and Seton Hall University could result in severe penalties, according to officials who announced actions to crack down on two establishments.

The state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control has notified Scarlet Pub in New Brunswick that it is seeking to revoke its license in connection with a July 2011 raid that resulted in the arrest of 26 people.

Charges are also pending against Cryan’s Beef and Ale House in South Orange, where six underage patrons and two staff members were arrested during a sweep by law enforcement agents in October.

“Underage drinking is a public safety issue, and it is vital that we send a clear message to license holders and those who are underage that it will not be tolerated,” Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said. “It’s important to protect the young people of New Jersey with enforcement actions like these, which deter licensees from selling to those under 21.”

“Licensees face serious consequences when they choose to serve alcohol to underage drinkers,” said ABC Director Michael Halfacre. “The most serious punishment the ABC can level is revocation, and we reserve that consequence for the most extreme violators.”

An anonymous tip also led to the arrests at Cryan’s Beef and Ale House, located less than a mile from Seton Hall University.

ABC investigators were observing Cryan’s on Oct. 18 when Ryan Buckman, 20, of Lima, N.Y., and an 18-year-old Toms River woman walked out of the establishment visibly intoxicated.

According to investigators, both struggled to maintain their balance, and at one point, the woman stumbled into the path of an oncoming vehicle in a nearby street.

Investigators approached both and later determined neither was 21. During questioning, the teenager lost consciousness and was later transported by ambulance from Cryan’s to a local hospital.

In addition to Buckman, ABC detectives arrested five other underage patrons during their investigation: Kelsey Marie Nichols, 20, of Morristown; Danielle Dericks, 19, of Pompton Plains; Sarah Marelli, 20, of Hazlet; Christina Caporrino, 20, of Hazlet; and Michael Gabriel, 20, of Springfield.

ABC investigators later questioned two Cryan’s staff members, bartender Jeffry Varela and busboy Alexander Ledesma, both of South Orange.

Ledesma, 20, was drinking during his shift and admitted to investigators that Varela had been serving him. Ledesma was arrested and Varela was issued a summons for serving alcohol to an underage person.

A review of the surveillance video of the bar, provided by Cryan’s management that night, revealed that a table had been set up just inside the entrance of the licensed premises to collect money for an open bar promotion.

Cryan’s management admitted that it allowed a sorority to collect $20 per person for the two-hour event, authorities said. All-You-Can-Drink promotions are not permitted under ABC law.


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