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Peru fines Spike’s Tavern on underage sales complaint

The city of Peru is pursuing fines of up to $1,500 for Spike’s Tavern, 1803 Fourth St., with the warning of a possible 30-day liquor license suspension if further issues arise.

Peru Police Chief Bob Pyszka and council members discussed the potential action during a committee meeting of the council Monday following recent events at the local bar that involved police interaction.

On Tuesday, the Peru Police Department issued a press release it was charging Ronald Dettore, 78, of Peru, with charges of persons permitted to enter on licensed premise and sale and delivery of alcohol to a minor and certain other persons. Each of these charges carries a maximum fine of $750.

Dettore was given a mandatory city administrative court date of Wednesday, Dec. 15.

“The state police did an underage drinking sting and one of our bars here in town served an underage drinker,” Pyszka said. “I’ve spoken with the mayor and Attorney (Scott) Schwieckert in reference to either go with a hearing to suspend the liquor license and/or we can write the local establishment a ticket to fine the business.”

Spike’s Tavern was one of 23 locations recently surveilled by Illinois State Police in Peru, La Salle, Spring Valley, Princeton and Ladd that were involved in the sale of an alcoholic beverage to a minor, according to Illinois State Police.

If the city elected to pursue a suspension of liquor license for up to 30 days, it would need to go through due process, the council said Monday. This would include a hearing that would cost the city the expenses of bringing in a court reporter, a hearing officer and Schwieckert as prosecuting attorney.

The accused parties would then have the opportunity to defend themselves before a final decision on length of suspension would be determined.

The other option was for the Peru Police Department to go through its own administrative hearing where a citation is issued. The maximum fine of $750 per violation was discussed.

The licensee under question also will have to go in front of La Salle County and the Illinois State Liquor Control Commission that would also result in further fines, according to City Clerk Dave Bartley.

Pyszka mentioned Monday he wanted to bring this issue in front of the council so members could discuss the message they wanted to present to the establishment and the community.

Schwieckert added this licensee has had issues in the past, but this is arguably the first incident since 2011.

Alderman Tom Payton said he was aware when the sting happened at the bar and wondered if the establishment has had issues since it occurred.

“Two out of the last three weekends, there have been altercations at this same place involving my officers,” Pyszka said.

The council members’ opinions bounced back and forth as they weighed the options that could include a nominal cost to the city and the message they wanted to send.

“I don’t want to get the reputation of ‘Oh, don’t worry you’re just going to get a fine,’ because the city doesn’t want to spend any money,” said Alderman Mike Sapienza. “We’re spending money for a policing situation and that’s the worst thing to do is get a reputation that the city will back down.”

Alderman Jason Edgcomb agreed with Sapienza but added he wanted to be sure the city does what it can to deter these issues in the future.

“We have to walk a fine line here and I agree that if we go this route with just the fine we want to make sure that down the road, if this happens again, we are a little more tough,” Edgcomb said. “With our police showing up there, it could end up with one of our officers getting injured in one of these fights.”

Pyszka agreed with Edgcomb and added officers have gotten some scrapes and bruises while interfering with the altercations, but no injuries have been deemed major.

“We sit back in the parking lots just to diffuse the situations and now it’s gotten to a point where it’s not even helping that,” Pyszka said. “We’ll go with the ADJ hearing and mark them with a fine.”

Kolowski said he would be more than happy to attend the hearing and issue the city’s warning if issues continue to arise.

Edgcomb told Pyszka to let the officers involved in these altercations and issues know they can share their thoughts and concerns with the chief and the council moving forward.

Pyszka, Kolowski and City Council members said in Tuesday’s press release they will not tolerate the sale of alcohol to underage people.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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