SNOW HILL – Failure to follow alcohol purchasing regulations resulted in a $4,000 fine for one Ocean City bar.
On Wednesday, the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners (BLC) fined Cowboy Coast $4,000 for having alcohol intended for Plug Ugly’s Publik House.
“The problem certainly will not occur again,” attorney Joe Moore said.
Moore represented Cowboy Coast and owner Mark Bogosh. He told the board that while Bogosh owned Cowboy Coast, he managed Baltimore’s Plug Ugly, for which his mother is the liquor license holder. A representative from the state’s comptroller’s office found 98 bottles of Plug Ugly liquor in Cowboy Coast during a March visit. While both restaurants buy from the same wholesale distributor, the alcohol in Cowboy Coast had been purchased under the Plug Ugly account.
Bogosh told the board a lost check resulted in the Cowboy Coast account being suspended by the distributor. Because he needed alcohol for Cowboy Coast in advance of St. Patrick’s Day, he ordered it on the Plug Ugly account.
“It was a mistake on my part,” he said.
BLC member Charles Nichols pointed out that Cowboy Coast’s account with the distributor had been past due since Oct. 6.
“Nothing was getting ordered so it languished longer than it should have,” Bogosh said.
He assured Nichols that he had been in contact with the distributor regarding the lost check prior to March.
“I couldn’t get it cleared up in time to get the order through,” he said.
When asked if he had documentation of his conversations with the distributor, Bogosh said he did have emails that had been sent. When asked if he could use his phone to share them with the board, he said he could not.
“I sent it from my desktop,” he said.
Moore asked the board to consider the fact that Bogosh hadn’t attempted to evade taxes when he made the purchase and had simply been trying to get Cowboy Coast open for the season.
“It is very important that Mr. Bogosh be allowed to stay open,” he said. “Memorial Day is coming. We’re hoping what you would do is temper your decision.”
The board voted 3-0 to fine the bar $4,000. Nichols said if it was not paid by Monday Cowboy Coast’s license would be suspended.
“You are lucky,” said William Esham, chairman of the board. “All we have to go by is Article 2b and our rules and regulations. You’re expected to know them and abide by them.”