By JOHN T. WARD
Rumson’s Molly Maguire’s Black Point Inn will be dark for five days of Independence Day week as a penalty for admitted misbehavior in the hours after the borough’s St. Patrick’s celebrations in March.
The temporary shutdown arises from a police complaint alleging one or more employees were drunk, as well as unspecified violations of a state law prohibiting “immoral activities” in places that serve booze, according to borough documents.
At least some of the misbehavior, which occurred around midnight on a Saturday, was caught on videotape, according to Mayor John Ekdahl, who tells redbankgreen he did what he could to keep the matter out of the public spotlight.
The suspension takes effect Sunday, June 30, and runs through July 4, under a settlement negotiated behind closed doors between borough Attorney Marty Barger and Jason Mandia, the lawyer for Maguire’s.
Mandia did not respond to a call seeking comment, nor did Kathy and Mike Maguire, who bought the former Murray MacGregor’s bar and restaurant in October, 2011.
Barger said the charges against Molly Maguire’s included having “a bartender who was intoxicated” and a violation of a state statute that “prohibits lewd and immoral activity, brawls and nuisances on or about the licensed premises,” according to its language.
Barger and other borough officials declined, however, to specify what occurred, what was caught on tape and by whom.
The settlement was approved in the form of a resolution by the borough council June 13, though it did not appear on the governing body’s agenda that night.
Ekdahl said the council acted on the recommendation of a three-member committee that included himself and two council members, and which was formed expressly for the purpose of hearing the police complaint.
Ekdahl tells redbankgreen that he opted, under state law, to limit the committee to three members so its meetings would not have to be advertised to the public.
“It was not a public forum,” he said Tuesday. The committee’s structure was chosen, “to be honest with you, to keep it out of the public eye,” he said.
“We sort of did it that way to protect the Maguires,” he said. “We thought this would be a kind of a circus” if the matter was handled more openly, he said.
He and the committee never saw the videotape or heard any testimony in the matter, he said, because a hearing was obviated by the negotiated settlement. Likewise, the council heard no testimony, he said.
Ekdahl said the case was the first in which any of the town’s eight licensed a establishments had been charged with a violation in his decade as mayor.