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Saturday, May 25, 2024
Downtown liquor stores receive punishments from city

University Avenue Liquor storefront: The ALRC voted to suspend several downtown liquor licenses Monday evening, including that of University Avenue Liquor, pictured.

Downtown liquor stores receive punishments from city

Students may find some downtown liquor stores temporarily closed after the Alcohol License Review Committee recommended fines and license suspensions for three business owners who violated city liquor laws.

The ALRC approved compromise punishments for two separate cases at its meeting Monday after negotiations between the co-owners of University Avenue Liquor and business owner Jongyean Lee and city attorneys. Lee owns eight downtown businesses with liquor licenses, including Riley's Wines of the World, Badger Liquor, Vineyard Liquor and the Church Key Bar.

University Avenue Liquor is under review for pairing with CampusDrank.com, an online alcohol delivery service. University Avenue Liquor did not have the necessary wholesaler license to sell in bulk to CampusDrank, which could cost the store $18,000 in fines and a 30-day liquor license suspension under the compromise proposed.

The fine would be the largest in Madison history for a liquor license issue. University Avenue Liquor has faced the nonrenewal of its liquor license in the past.

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Lee was recently sentenced to a year in prison for tax fraud, while her husband Hyungirl Lee is currently serving a two-year sentence on similar charges. The ALRC added stipulations that Lee should be required to sell Vineyard Liquor and have 10-day liquor license suspensions on several of her businesses.

Madison resident Rosemary Lee said she was upset the punishments were not more severe. She was the first to petition the city to remove Jongyean Lee's liquor licenses after the bar owner was convicted of tax fraud.

""The income tax evasion was related to their liquor licenses because it was the proceeds from their various liquor businesses they were underreporting,"" Lee said.

Ald. Mike Verveer, Dist. 4, said the ALRC compromised on the punishment out of concern for the hundreds of employees who could be affected by a license suspension.

""We wanted a stern punishment but not a death penalty,"" Verveer said.

According to ALRC voting member Mark Woulf, the Common Council will likely approve the ALRC's punitive suggestions Tuesday at the full Council meeting.

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