Council approves liquor license over police concerns

“I hope that my concerns prove unfounded and [Legends Bar] will be a successful well run business.  I want everyone to understand that the city council just approved a liquor license to an individual related to pending felony assault charges and a history of criminal convictions including DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving without insurance.  The approval came despite not satisfying police requests for information.  The police have raised additional questions about contradictory information submitted by the applicant.  I remained concerned by this.”

-Michael Wojcik

At a recessed city council meeting on January 23, 2012 the city council voted to approve a liquor license to Legends Bar.  At the meeting the Rochester Police Department spoke to a memo illustrating an extensive criminal history (involving alcohol) by one of the applicants.  Rochester Police Sgt. Evenson stated that the Police had not received requested materials.   The vote passed 3-2-1, with Sandra Means absent.  Voting in favor were Dennis Hanson, Bruce Snyder, and Ed Hruska.  Voting against were Michael Wojcik and Mark Bilderback.  Abstaining was Randy Staver as he is a relative of one of the applicants.

Mark Bilderback stated that he wanted to make sure all the “i’s” were dotted and “t’s” were crossed.  He stated at this point they were not.

Michael Wojcik stated that he had met with the applicants and was willing support the application if the police were satisfied with the application and Councilmember Bilderback was satisfied with the accommodations for safety, security, and neighbor concerns.  Neither of these conditions was met.

Due to the closeness of the vote this decision could be reversed by a veto from Mayor Ardell Brede. A memo pertaining to Legends Bar from the Rochester Police Department is attached.

MEMORANDUM

Rochester Police Department

Date:              January 11, 2012

To:                  City Council and Mayor Brede

From:             Sgt. James Evenson and the Community Action Team

Subject:         Findings for Application for On-Sale Intoxicating Liquor License for Legends Bar at 11 4th St SE (Former Gilligan’s Cove)

______________________________________________________________________________

The Rochester Police Department Community Action Team has conducted a background check on the Legends Bar and its applicant, Travis James Fisher and co owner Jeff Fieseler

Facts found as a result are:

Mr. Fisher has no felony convictions, willful violations regarding alcoholic beverages nor has he had a liquor license revoked in Minnesota.  During the last 10 years Mr. Fisher has had several traffic related offenses including DWI, Leaving the Scene of an accident and Driving after suspension.

Contacts that the Rochester Police Department has had with Travis James Fisher:

2004:  Mentioned as a suspect in a fight at a bar –Not charged

2005:  Roommate was subject of a Marijuana trafficking case from DEA and Dane County WI.  A search warrant was conduct at their house; however the disposition of that case is unknown at this time.

2008:  Suspect in an Alcohol Compliance check at Whiskey Bones. City Attorney denied prosecution as Mr. Fisher was a bartender and a doorman was supposed to check identifications.  Rochester Police Department incident number 08-25414.

2009:  Mr. Fisher completed probation for DWI’s and Leaving the Scene of an Accident/No Insurance.

2011:  Mentioned in a Felony Assault.  Mr. Fisher was involved in a confrontation in which felony assault charges are pending. According to reports it appears Mr. Fisher was an instigator in the incident which led to the suspect assaulting another person causing significant injury.  No charges will be brought against Mr. Fisher.  This case is currently pending charges so limited information is available.

In consultation with the City Attorney, I asked Mr. Fisher for three months of bank statements to help determine if he was the sole owner/applicant for the license or if he was acting in concert with others in the applicant. Mr. Fisher only provided totals for those months, not a detailed statement. Mr. Fisher provided a copy of the lease but had the dollar amount blacked out.

On January 3, 2012, Mr. Fisher pulled his license application.  The next day Mr. Fisher re-filed with a co-owner named Jeffrey Fieseler. We conducted a background investigation on Jeffrey Fieseler. Mr. Fieseler has no liquor related convictions.  He was arrested for DWI but the case has not been adjudicated. Mr. Fieseler has had several civil judgments against him since 2006 for apparent non-payment or disputed charges. We found nothing in his criminal history that would prevent Mr. Fieseler from holding a liquor license.

I spoke to both Mr. Fisher and Mr. Fieseler and advised them that with the new application, I still need evidence of financial responsibility.  I requested the following from Mr. Fisher and Mr. Fieseler:

  • The last 3 years tax returns
  • The last 3 months of bank statements
  • A detailed business plan, including their expenses to date and estimated operating costs

I received Federal and State Tax returns from Mr. Fieseler and Mr. Fisher for the tax years of 2008, 2009, and 2010. These records show potential discrepancies between income information on the License application as well as information given to me in interviews.  Mr. Fieseler and Mr. Fisher have yet to provide detailed bank statements as requested. Mr. Fieseler has informed me that he has secured a line of credit business loan in the amount of $20,000.  He further states that he has not yet used any portion of this loan for business operations or start up expenses.

The financial information and documents provided by Mr. Fisher and Mr. Fieseler were incomplete. Members of the Rochester Police Department are not qualified to make conclusions regarding business financial plans. No conclusion can be made regarding the financial viability of the applicants business plan/model.

Sgt. James Evenson

 

One comment

  1. Looks to me like the monkeys would be running the zoo in this case…but maybe that’s the way all bars are run? Mr. Fisher likes to drink so he thinks he can successfully run a bar in a town of 100k people. I like to bake but I am in no way qualified to take over Daube’s. If his credentials are really as light as they are presented in the police report, I’m also concerned about what bank is financing this proposition. I’d be opposed to the mayor overriding a council vote. I just hope Mr. Fisher has more qualifications than what was published in the paper. Good luck to the new business! If it fails, I predict a quick failure with little damage to the citizens (no deaths!).

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