Low Key Fights Underage Drinking, Loitering Charges

by | Apr 18, 2024

Above: Town Solicitor Peter Skwirz (at the podium) questions EGPD’s Lt. John Allen (foreground) during a hearing 4/9/24 over Low Key’s liquor license violations in front of the Town Council.

Lawyer for the Main Street bar calls the charges a ‘witch hunt’

Calling the case against Low Key a “witch hunt,” lawyer Sean O’Leary has argued in both Municipal Court and before the Town Council (sitting as the Board of Licensures), that the town overcharged Low Key owner Zach Flanders and bar manager William Laliberty when police cited them for serving underage patrons and allowing them to loiter. 

In February, after a trial that lasted more than 5 hours, Municipal Court Judge David Bazar found Laliberty guilty of allowing minors to loiter at the Main Street bar and not guilty of serving minors. Laliberty, through Low Key, has appealed that ruling to Superior Court. 

Then, April 9, the Town Council – minus Caryn Corenthal – took up the same charges (other charges, including playing of music and serving of alcohol after hours, had been dropped). 

Corenthal has recused herself from the proceedings. She did not respond to a question about the recusal. In a brief filed about the case (Disqualification), O’Leary cited instances at earlier sessions over Low Key’s liquor license where Corenthal spoke in what he characterized as a prejudicial manner. He quoted her from a November 2023 meeting: “I don’t think you should have a business, frankly.”

While the charges are the same in both venues, the rules are different. Where in Municipal Court, the judge had to make his decision “beyond a reasonable doubt,” that same level of strictness does not apply for a board of licensures. The Town Council can follow but is not bound by the rules of evidence, according to Matt Oliverio, who is advising the Town Council for this proceeding. EG’s town solicitor, Peter Skwirz, is prosecuting the case and, since the Town Council is acting as judge, they chose to have independent representation. 

During the hearing April 9, EG police officers Lt. John Allen and Patrolman Anthony Pescarino testified that on the evening of July 26, 2023, they had talked with individuals ages 18 and 20 years old respectively outside Low Key. Both young men said they had been in Low Key earlier.

William Laliberty, on the job that night, allowed the officers to view the videotape of the bar’s interior and, according to the police, they saw the two underage men in the bar, with at least one of them holding a beverage. Police took photos of the video and asked Laliberty for a copy of the video. Laliberty said he would get a copy to police but police never got the video and, according to Laliberty and Flanders, the video had since been overwritten. 

A third police officer, Anthony St. Laurent, who was there that July 26 night, could not appear April 9 because he was injured. After considerable back-and-forth, it was agreed to allow the Town Council to review a transcript of St. Laurent’s Municipal Court testimony. Since that could not happen April 9, the hearing was continued to May 21. The defense will be able to present their witnesses at that time.  

Find previous stories about this issue below:

Councilors Grill Low Key Over License Infractions

Buzz on Business: Low Key License Renewed w/Limits; Phipps Realty Joins Compass

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Jason Beaumier
April 18, 2024 10:41 pm

From the article –

“Police took photos of the video and asked Laliberty for a copy of the video. Laliberty said he would get a copy to police but police never got the video and, according to Laliberty and Flanders, the video had since been overwritten. ”

How does that not warrant a destroying/tampering with evidence charge?

April 19, 2024 7:09 am

The witch hunt defense. That has become an unfortunate go-to defense when individuals are guilty and apparently have no better argument. Tampering with evidence is a serious crime.


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