Written by Patch Editor Daniel Nee
After three documented cases of over-serving bar patrons, the owners of Tiffany's on Route 37 will divest themselves of the bar and restaurant's liquor license, state officials announced Friday.
The restaurant served alcohol to "visibly intoxicated persons" on at least three occasions, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said Friday in a statement. On two of those occasions, two female Tiffany’s patrons were killed in separate drunk driving crashes and in the third, an intoxicated male motorcyclist was injured in a crash.
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Bruno D’Uva Sr. and Bruno D’Uva Jr., both of whom own 30 percent of Tiffany's license, and Lisa Barna, who owns 40 percent, must sell their interests in the license by July 24, 2015 and pay a fine of $200,000.
ABC laws prohibit licensed establishments from selling alcoholic beverages to any patrons actually or visibly intoxicated, the state said.
According to police reports, around 2 a.m. on May 12, 2010, 40-year-old Kelly Walck was killed when the car she was riding in crashed into a utility pole on Route 37 in Toms River. The driver of that car, Laura Nelson, and another passenger, David Sharrer, each had blood alcohol levels of more than three times the .08 legal limit to drive.
Nelson, who is serving four years in state prison for vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated, said in a sworn statement to ABC investigators that she had been drinking with Walck and Sharrer at Tiffany’s for approximately 90 minutes before she got behind the wheel.
Less than three months later, Toni Lebert, 31, was killed when she struck a NJ Transit bus around 1 a.m. on July 23. Her BAC was .255, ABC officials said.
According to sworn witness statements, Lebert drank at Tiffany’s for nearly three hours, went to her boyfriend’s house and later crashed on the Garden State Parkway.
In an earlier case, after leaving Tiffany’s on November 9, 2006, Frederick Voss, then 43, struck a car on Hooper Avenue while operating his motorcycle and suffered severe injuries, according to police reports. Toms River police later arrested him for driving while intoxicated. His blood alcohol level was .196.
ABC Director Michael Halfacre said in a statement that the agency works with local law enforcement to identify and investigate licensed establishments that appear to have recurring cases of arrested drunk drivers admitting to have patronized those bars and restaurants.
"Having an alcoholic beverage license carries the responsibility of monitoring how much your patrons are drinking and ensuring that a patron is not served to the point they are intoxicated or appear intoxicated," said Halfacre. "Keeping a watchful eye and cutting off patrons may not seem like good business at the time, but it is in the long run. Intoxicated patrons become intoxicated drivers, and those drivers can become tragedies."There was no answer at the restaurant when contacted for comment Friday morning, and Bruno D'Uva Jr.'s voicemail was not functioning.