ANKENY — An administrative law judge has issued a ruling on four charges against Cancun and the denial of the bar’s liquor license renewal by the city.

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division held a hearing Dec. 29 to discuss the Clinton City Council’s recommendation to deny the tavern a renewed liquor license and discuss a complaint that alleges four charges against the bar, including two sales of alcohol to minors, one count of extended credit to patrons and one count of indecent exposure at the bar.

In an initial decision rendered Friday, Judge Margaret LaMarche found a preponderance of evidence established violations on counts one through three, including two counts of supplying alcohol to minors and the extension of credit to patrons. Count one carries a civil penalty of $500. Count two subjects the bar to a 30-day suspension and a fine of $1,500. A seven-day suspension was imposed on count three. LaMarche found the evidence did not support the conclusion that the licensee or employees permitted an incident of indecent exposure.

Cancun’s owners, Shawn Stickell and Jay Cravatta, appealed the city’s denial of a liquor license renewal to the Iowa ABD. The Clinton City Council voted on Oct. 11 not to renew the bar’s license, which expired Oct. 14. The bar was able to remain open until the state decision was handed down.

According to decision documents, Iowa law states “a liquor control license may be issued to any person who is of good moral character” and factors that are considered include “financial standing and good reputation.”

LaMarche found that the three violations within the first year of operation significantly damaged the bar’s reputation.

LaMarche affirmed the city’s decision to deny the license renewal stating, “The local authority has reasonable grounds to doubt that the licensee will comply with the laws, rules and ordinances governing the liquor license.”

Stickell said he doesn’t agree with the findings and will appeal the decision.

What's next

Cancun’s owners can appeal the judge’s initial decision within 30 days of the ruling. If the decision is not appealed, the ruling stands as the final agency action.

Cancun’s owners would have 30 days following the final action to pay the $2,000 in fines. The owners would be forced to comply with the 37-day suspension and would be forced to close without a renewed liquor license.

Cancun’s liquor license is set for suspension beginning at 6 a.m. March 6 and will continue through 6 a.m. on April 12. The suspension and fines are held pending a final outcome. Cancun can stay in operation without a liquor license so long as the case is being appealed.

If the prosecution or the defense appeal any part of the decision, the case would then be reviewed by Lynn Walding, administrator of the Iowa ABD.

He would then render the final agency action, which could be appealed to district court for judicial review and, finally, to the Iowa Supreme Court.

This Week's Circulars