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State not accepting any ‘Excuses’

Tom Jackson • Dec 2, 2013 at 7:21 AM

If you can’t pay the fine, don’t allow the violations.

That’s the attitude state liquor control officials are adopting with one local business owner who refuses to pay $24,000 in fines racked up for smoking violations in his Perkins Township tavern.

The state intends to yank the liquor license for Excuses, a bar in the plaza at Strub Road near Columbus Avenue.

Because of unpaid interest, the actual figure owed is closer to $40,000, said Sharon Schaeffer, community health director for the Erie County Health Department.

Excuses owes more money in smoking fines than any other Erie County bar.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office has been attempting to collect unpaid fines and has begun targeting the liquor licenses for bars that owe large amounts.

The AG’s office is trying to collect fines in 1,400 cases and has targeted the liquor licenses at 15 businesses statewide with high fines, Schaeffer said.

Ohio Division of Liquor Control officials denied renewal of the liquor license for O.T. Perkins LLC, the license holder for Excuses.

Excuses owner Terry Smith appealed the decision to the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, but commissioners upheld the denial Nov. 18, said Brian Hoyt, a spokesman for the agency.

Smith has until Dec. 9 to file an appeal in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, Hoyt said.

As of Wednesday morning, no appeal had been filed.

Smith did not return a phone call to Excuses requesting comment.

He lost a battle earlier this year when he tried to block the fines in an Erie County court case.

Common Pleas Judge Roger Binette ruled Smith waited until it was too late to contest the fines.

“To allow Excuses to sit back, never appeal, refuse to pay the invoices and years later raise issues which could and should have been raised … is improper,” Binette wrote.

Schaeffer outlined where the department stands in trying to collect unpaid fines from other local bars.

Boze’s Bar owes $3,200 and Pump Bar and Grill owes $6,600.

Neither business has made any payments, she said.

Driftwood Tavern formerly owed $4,100, but it has made payments and reduced that sum.

Kaman’s Korner had total fines of $1,600 and has paid $600 so far.

Bud’s Place has paid its fines, Schaeffer said.

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