Ypsilanti's Brandy's Liquor Shop owners fined, liquor license to be transferred
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission decided this month that Brandy’s Liquor Shop’s liquor license will remain in escrow, controlled by the MLCC, until it is transferred to a non-family member who is not associated in any way with the current owners.
The owners are not allowed to sell any alcohol on the premises, and the transfer of the license must be approved by the MLCC.
The Ypsilanti store, located at 902 W. Michigan Ave. near Summit Street, has been closed and padlocked for more than a year after the Washtenaw County Circuit Court entered an order on Aug. 3, 2011 stating Brandy’s had to remain closed until Aug. 4 of this year.
The Hanna family filed two appeals to the padlock ruling. Both were denied and the ruling was extended until Sept. 7.
The Aug. 6 hearing at Plymouth City Hall was one of many court appearances made over the years by Brandy’s owners, Sam and Kathy Hanna, and their son, Brian Hanna.
The Hanna family could not be reached for comment.
The city filed a motion in June 2011 asking Judge Timothy Connors to find the store's owners in contempt of court for failing to meet several provisions of a March 2009 consent agreement.
In an undercover raid by the Michigan State Police and Ypsilanti Police Department in August 2010, Brian Hanna, Sam Hanna’s son, was arrested for receiving and selling stolen goods to undercover investigators on five different occasions.
Brian Hanna appeared before MLCC Commissioner Edward Gaffney at the hearing held at the Plymouth City Hall.
The Hanna family faced seven charges that stemmed from incidents that occurred in 2010 and 2011.
The family was charged with receiving and concealing stolen property, five charges of sold, furnished or possessed alcoholic liquor on the licensed premises not purchased from an authorized source, and one charge of purchasing more than nine liters of spirits in one month.
A negotiated settlement was reached during the hearing and three of the seven charges facing the shop were dropped. The four remaining charges were assessed the maximum fine of $2,500 each, for a total of $10,000.
The Hanna family agreed not to appeal the decision.
MLCC Business Manager Kerry Krone said members of the Hanna family will be able to apply for another liquor license but prior history will be taken into consideration.
"Every application is considered under its own merits and if they had a new application or a new entity, that would be considered," Krone said. "It would go through the process like any other applicant and their history is something that is always considered. ... That's the standard."
Assistant City Attorney Karl Barr said the city essentially has filed to remove the liquor license from the Hanna family.
A court date has been set for Thursday, Sept. 13 at 9 a.m. and Judge Timothy Connors will decide whether the city can take the license.
Barr said with the case going back to Circuit Court and depending on the judge's decision, the Hanna family may possibly lose the license altogether and not be able to sell it.
If the Hanna family were to obtain another license and open up another store in the city, Barr said the city does have an ordinance that allows it to object to a license from being issued or being revoked.
"It's our job if the city says this has been a problem location," he said. "If the city asks us to stop this from occurring we would certainly try to make that happen but whether or not is up to the elected officials and the MLCC."
Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber attended the hearing along with Council Members Lois Richardson, Pete Murdock Michael Bodary and Ricky Jefferson.
Schreiber said although he isn’t sure what the long-term effects of the settlement may be since the store can no longer sell alcohol, members of the community were appreciative of the outcome.
“Everyone is pleased and I know that there were a lot of letters saying how much nicer the neighborhood (has been) since it's been closed,” Schreiber said.
Richardson and Jefferson both represent Ward 1, which is where the store is located.
Jefferson said the outcome was the "best that we could achieve at this time." He added that while many residents are happy, some have expressed the need to have a store open in the area.
"The majority I have spoken with are glad that it's quiet since it's been closed," Jefferson said. "Some are not as enthused about a business being closed, but we don’t know until the outcome of the sale whether or not it's going to be open. People living directly there are most vocal about it and they’re still concerned."
Schreiber said while he doesn't have "anything against them," he feels the right decision was made.
"I just don't think they could handle the responsibility of having a liquor license," he said.