State suspends liquor licenses for Italian club, Elks in Beverly

It’s four down and one to go for Beverly’s beleaguered private social clubs, according to the Salem News.

The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission has suspended the liquor licenses of the Italian Community Center and Elks Lodge for violating state gambling laws, adding to earlier suspensions for the Union Club and American Legion.

In its latest decisions, the ABCC suspended the license of the ICC for 20 days, but only 10 days will be served. The Elks Lodge received a five-day suspension, with two days to be served.

Tom Alexander, the lawyer representing the ICC, said the club will pay a fine in lieu of the suspension, which was scheduled for June 1-10. Alexander said the club has functions scheduled during that time period and wants to remain open. He said he did not know the amount of the fine.

Under state law, the fine is calculated using a formula that multiplies the number of suspension days by 50 percent of the licensee’s per diem gross profits.

In hearings before the state commission in Boston, the four Beverly clubs all admitted to operating illegal gambling machines on their premises after a raid by ABCC investigators on the same day last November. A fifth club, the Franco-American, is scheduled to appear before the commission.

Investigators found automatic gaming devices in all five clubs and evidence that they were being used for illegal gambling, including bags of cash. Earlier this month, the commission suspended the Union Club’s liquor license indefinitely and gave the American Legion Club a five-day suspension, with two days to be served.

In its notices of the suspensions, the ABCC did not explain its reasons for the varying lengths of suspensions. The Union Club has received the most severe punishment, most likely due to the fact that it violated the terms of a suspension in 2012 for the same offense.

The ICC had the most gambling devices — eight — and was making a profit of about $3,000 a week from the machines. Club officials told investigators the money was placed into a scholarship fund bank account. But after further questioning, another member admitted that club members were paid $18,000 out of the gambling profits for snow-plowing the club’s parking lot last year.

The Elks Lodge suspension is scheduled to take place on June 8 and 9.

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