After illegally selling liquor wholesale to establishments in Somerville and surrounding communities, Ball Square Liquors was closed for several days in July, as reported by Somerville Wicked Local.
The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) ordered the liquor store to serve the mandatory five-day suspension after investigators searched store records and determined last summer that Ball Square Liquors had been illegally selling alcohol to six establishments: The Greek American Social Club and The Demosthenes Greek American Democrat Club in Somerville, Desi Dhaba in Cambridge, Kathmandu Restaurant in Arlington, Kabab Corner in Medford, and Santorini in Revere.
Records show Ball Square Liquors paid the ABCC a $68,323 fee in lieu of an 85-day suspension, but Ball Square Liquors owner Chris Lianos said he couldn't do anything about the mandatory five-day suspension.
"The only thing I can say is this business that unfortunately happened to us, is something that was happening years ago," Lianos said. "It's a different business now. We're putting it behind us and we will continue to move forward with growing the business the way we have in the last three or four years."
Lianos pointed out that Ball Square Liquors received Best of Boston honors in 2011 and 2013.
According to findings last summer from the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, Kathmandu Spice in Arlington made 105 purchases from Ball Square Liquors, totaling $14,320. Owner Sheela Mandahar told investigators she bought alcohol from the establishment and the store also made deliveries to her restaurant.
State law requires restaurant owners to purchase alcohol from licensed distributors, not storefronts. But Mandahar said she found it difficult to find distributors willing to deliver the small amounts of beer and wine Kathmandu Spice needs.
"I don't need that much. I only need a little beer," Mandahar said, according to reports.
Kathmandu Spice paid $1,200 in fines in lieu of a suspension.
Jon Carlisle, communications director for the state treasurer's office, which oversees the ABCC, said Massachusetts law addressing distributor sales is an old one, and said its basis is uncertain.
"These laws have been on the books for many years, many since the general time around Prohibition, so the precise thinking at the time the law was crafted is a bit cloudy," Carlisle said in an email. "We see this violation from time to time, but it's not something that's particularly widespread. When we do encounter it, we take it quite seriously, and mete out penalties accordingly."