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March 25, 2013

Kokomo liquor ruling overturned

Kokomo — A state hearing officer has overturned two liquor board rulings, opening the door for Kokomo bar owner Dan Dumoulin II to start a new business.

Frank Guthrie, a former member of the State Alcohol & Tobacco Commission board, decided last week the Howard County Alcoholic Beverage Board had unfairly ruled against Dumoulin’s permit application.

Dumoulin, who owns three strip clubs, a bar and several other local businesses, has been trying to open a new bar next to his north side Big Daddy’s strip club.

The local board turned down that application last April, after hearing from several local activists who have been trying to shut down his strip clubs.

The state board initially upheld that ruling, but Dumoulin appealed.

In June, Dumoulin and about two dozen supporters faced off against Kokomo conservative activist Linda Burris and a dozen of her supporters in front of a member of the state Alcohol & Tobacco Commission.

Guthrie’s ruling referenced testimony from that appeals hearing, in which Dumoulin claimed a local liquor board member had been biased against his application.

Several of Dumoulin’s employees at the Rock Bottom bar came forward at the June hearing to say Dumoulin’s sister, Wendy Mates, had been in a relationship with former local liquor board member Lance Rice.

Rice later confirmed the relationship.

“That’s funny. I don’t have a vendetta against anybody,” Rice said, acknowledging that he dated Mates “for a little while.”

“This had nothing to do with me, [Dumoulin] or his sister, it’s all based on facts. I’m not the one with the violations, with the excuses or with the other situations he has going on,” Rice said after the June appeals hearing.

In his ruling, Guthrie said Rice should have disclosed the relationship and recused himself from the vote.

Guthrie also indicated none of the liquor license violations at Dumoulin’s establishments have been serious enough to warrant the denial of his application.

The remonstrators argued allegations of illegal activity and beer tap switching at Dumoulin’s bars were reasons to deny his latest permit application.

Dumoulin previously said he wouldn’t open The Recovery Room, which he described as a “breakfast and lunch” place, until he receives the beer and wine permit.

Guthrie’s ruling vacates the local liquor board denial, and instructs the local board to grant the application.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com

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