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February 16, 2013

club Loses liquor license

ABCC suspends alcohol activity as fatal probe continues

NEWBURYPORT — The North End Boat Club’s liquor license has been indefinitely suspended in the wake of a fatal New Year’s Eve accident involving the Newburyport social club and marina off Merrimac Street.

In a ruling handed down Thursday, the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission found the boat club on Manson Avenue in violation of five regulations — including hindering or delaying the investigation into the crash on the Route 1 Gillis Bridge just over the river in Salisbury that killed a 41-year-old East Hampstead, N.H., woman.

Police allege that Mikhael Sarkis of Lawrence, a bartender at North End Boat Club, was drunk when he left the property and got behind the wheel of his car with his girlfriend, Donna Bergeron, and another passenger, Clifford Pollard of Salisbury.

The three had been at the club, which was holding a New Year’s Eve party featuring live music. The accident occurred just 1 mile from the club.

Notice of the ABCC’s ruling to suspend the club’s liquor license was hand-delivered to the venue Thursday night by the agency’s investigator, Caroline Guarino-Wilichoski, and Newburyport city Marshal Thomas Howard.

“We’re looking for the club to be forthcoming in regards to our investigation into whether or not the club was involved in over-serving on the night of Dec. 31,” Howard said yesterday.

The ABCC ruling immediately prohibits North End Boat Club from selling, displaying or giving away alcohol. The club has 30 days to appeal the decision to the state superior court, if it chooses.

No one from the boat club could be reached for comment yesterday. A call there yesterday afternoon went unanswered. The club and its parking lot were empty last night and a sign on the door read, “Closed ‘til further notice.”

The order comes following a Jan. 29 public hearing conducted by a panel of ABCC commissioners at the agency’s Boston offices.

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