Best Liquors owner Sunny Sharma and an employee of his Leighton Avenue store have each pleaded guilty to one count of selling alcohol to a minor, according to Police Chief Mark Fitzgerald.
But Sharma’s legals woes are far from over. He and a second employee are still contesting two pending charges in Municipal Court proceedings that have been adjourned until Feb. 1. And at some point, Sharma is expected to face off against the Borough Council, which has been making noises about yanking his liquor license in response to a long list of complaints and resolved offenses.
Fitzgerald announced the pleas by Sharma and Balvindar Singh at a Westside Community Group Neighborhood Watch meeting Wednesday night.
Sharma showed up for the meeting, but arrived after Fitzgerald’s announcement.
Fitzgerald said the pleas were entered last Thursday.
The council had indicated that it was anxious to take up the license issue when it issued a 38-page complaint against Sharma, two employees and the store on Nov. 15. A date of Dec. 6 was set for what was expected to be a four-hour-plus, trial-like hearing.
But in early December, Sharma changed lawyers, and the hearing was postponed until after the new council was installed.
Since then, there’s been no announcement about when the hearing might occur.
As Sharma sees it, the recent silence confirms his belief that his store was turned into an election-season football by officeseekers who wanted to mollify Leighton Avenue residents who have called for the business to be shuttered.
Still, he sounded a conciliatory note after Wednesday’s meeting.
“Hopefully this (de-licensing effort) will go away, and they won’t give me so hard a time at the council,” Sharma said. “I’m working with them, and will continue working with them if they give me a chance to continue with my business.”
Sharma says he has posted ‘no loitering’ signs, installed exterior security cameras and removed a payphone from just outside his store in an effort, he says, to prevent people from gathering there and causing disturbances. He’s also asked his customer not to leave their car stereos blasting, and has hired help to keep the sidewalk clear of litter.
Neighbors, though, insist that the store is intrinsically a nuisance that is not suited for a residential block.