Drift Inn Cleared of Alcohol Violation, Boatman’s License Revoked

By Andrea Shiell, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Nov. 20, 2008)—Two businesses faced numerous violations from the Alcoholic Beverage Board of St. Mary’s County Nov. 13 which bore stark contrasts to each other in both the nature of the complaints and the verdicts issued.

Josephine A. Copsey faced charges that her business, The Drift Inn in Mechanicsville, allowed a person under the age of 18 to serve alcoholic beverages. The complainant who reported the incident, Melissa Flowers, a bartender at Riverview Restaurant, said she saw a student from Margaret Brent Middle School (where she works as a paraeducator), carrying trays of beer to tables in the restaurant.

“She’s in 6th grade…and I know that at 12 years old you can’t even get a work permit,” said Flowers, who faced some intensive cross-questioning from Copsey about how far she was from the bar at the time, and why she did not report the incident to the manager on duty.

Board Chairman Moses P. Saldaña Jr. recused himself from discussing the case, citing a conf lict of interest in light of his relation to the defendant.

“She’s my wife’s grandmother,” he explained. “It’s something I told the ethics commission in Annapolis I would do. It’s just safer that way.”

“It’s hard to believe,” said Copsey, who attested that the youngster in question was her granddaughter. “I’ve had all of my children and grandchildren in that place and I’ve never had a problem…once in a while they’ll clean a table…but they never serve anybody…I have other people there to do that job,” she said.

Gerald Bowles, a bartender at the restaurant and the young girl’s father, testified as well.

“She is 10 years old, she has never served…she’s smart enough to know she does not handle alcohol,” he said, emphatically. “This is a ridiculous charge.”

When asked why Flowers might have brought such accusations before the board, Emma Bowles, a server at the Drift Inn, replied, “She may have something against us because of the restaurant where she works, because we’re always busy. But I don’t know.”

The Beverage Board voted that there was no violation that could be reliably confirmed, so the charge was dismissed.

Another business owner was not so lucky, however. Whereas charges against the Drift Inn could not be confirmed with evidence, Teresa M Boatman, owner of Boatman’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in Ridge, was penalized in light of video evidence, as well as her own admission, of three violations, including allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages outside the licensed premises, allowing an employee to work while unclothed, and allowing patrons to smoke without warning or refusing service.

Boatman asked to be allowed to voluntarily relinquish her license rather than be tried, but the board denied her request.

“On a criminal basis, this for her would be like a guilty plea,” said Attorney Joann Wood, explaining that Boatman would be allowed to reapply for her license after six months without the mar on her record.

Boatman admitted that all three incidents occurred, and she was fined accordingly for the first and third violation. Video evidence of all three violations was on record, the most damning of which was the undisputed account of the second violation, for which Boatman’s license was automatically revoked.

“A video was provided by an individual witness…showing that a bartender that was working at Boatman’s removed her shirt and was working unclothed from the waste up,” explained Joann Wood when outlining the details of the incident.

Boatman declined to comment on the ruling.

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