New Albany Village Council could contest the renewal of a liquor permit for Three Amigos, formerly Don Patron Mexican Restaurant, at 9765 Johnstown Road.

New Albany Village Council could contest the renewal of a liquor permit for Three Amigos, formerly Don Patron Mexican Restaurant, at 9765 Johnstown Road.

New Albany Police Chief Mark Chaney said liquor-permit violations, which stem from a five-month investigation that forced the restaurant to close in June, have not yet been reviewed by the Ohio Liquor Commission. The commission is a three-member board appointed by the governor that reviews liquor permit violations.

An undercover officer brought the Don Patron investigation to an end by setting up a June 24 drug deal through the restaurant's assistant manager.

Fourteen people were arrested or detained in conjunction with the investigation. Among them, three, including assistant manager Cristian A. Garcia, were arrested on felony drug trafficking charges. A fourth person was charged with three counts of drug trafficking, a fifth was charged with two counts of kidnapping and gross sexual imposition and a sixth was arrested for failure to report a crime. Three others were detained as potential illegal immigrants and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Council clerk Betty Bosko asked village council members at the Nov. 16 meeting if they wanted to contest any liquor-permit renewals.

Council members asked Chaney for an update on Three Amigos, which reopened in August under the same ownership. At that time, owner Martin Garcia told ThisWeek he tried to sell the space after Don Patron was shut down in June, but no one bought it.

Garcia said he knew it was a good location and after praying for help, said he decided to open another restaurant at the location. He said he did not want to operate the business the wrong way.

However, after the restaurant reopened, Chaney said, an employee was involved in an accident in the parking lot and the employee was identified as a potential illegal immigrant and turned over to ICE.

"Less than a month after they opened, we had to get ICE involved again," Chaney said.

Council is expected to consider a resolution at its first meeting in December to contest the liquor-permit renewal.

Matt Mullins, a spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, said the village has 30 days to contest the renewal before the renewal date Feb. 1. He said if the Ohio Liquor Commission has not yet heard the case regarding the permit violations, the renewal would not be issued.

The restaurant could then continue to operate until the Ohio Liquor Commission reviews the violations and determines whether to authorize a fine, suspend the permit or revoke the permit.

After the Ohio Liquor Commission hearing, if the permit has not been revoked, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control's superintendent would review any objections to the permit before determining if a renewal could be granted according to the Ohio Revised Code.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety reported the permit violations to the Ohio Liquor Commission after the June arrests. Mullins said the liquor-permit violations included improper conduct and illegal sales with possession of dangerous drugs.

Chaney said if council moves forward, the village will present its case to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

lwince@thisweeknews.com

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