The state Liquor Authority suspended the liquor licenses of three Oneonta bars targeted in a multi-agency sting last weekend.

Effective immediately, The Alley, Today's and The Upper Deck are not allowed to serve alcohol. The emergency suspension was ordered Wednesday morning during a meeting of the Liquor Authority Board in New York City.

Nearly three dozen local police and state officials, including a 19-year-old undercover agent, simultaneously raided the three bars Saturday night. City police said there were hundreds of underage drinkers in the establishments.

Through interviews with patrons, the Liquor Authority documented more than two dozen instances where underage patrons were served alcohol, bouncers were not licensed as security guards as required by law, bar staff were being paid under the table and, in the case of The Upper Deck, changes were made to the business, including ownership, that were not reported to the state.

In the case of The Upper Deck, formerly known as The Sake Club, several alleged violations from last year were bundled with the recent ones.

All three bars had been cited numerous times by the Liquor Authority in recent years for keeping disorderly premises and serving underage drinkers, among several other violations.

The bar owners have until Feb. 17 to enter pleas to the charges. Failure to do so will be deemed a plea of "no contest," by the Liquor Authority. A plea of "not guilty" will result in an expedited administrative hearing and possible punishment in the event of a "guilty" finding includes civil penalties, a forfeiture of the licensee's bond and license suspension, cancellation and revocation, according to the Liquor Authority.

"I support the state Liquor Authority's decision because they see the problem that we see," Lt. Dennis Nayor of the Oneonta Police Department said Wednesday after learning of the suspension. "This is an ongoing course of conduct, and we're not going to tolerate it."

John Purcell, who owns Today's and The Alley, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday afternoon. Adam Kempley, who is listed as the principal on the license for The Sake Club, does not have a listed number.

The investigation determined The Sake Club changed its trade name last year to The Upper Deck without notifying the Liquor Authority. Also, the agency determined Brian Marble had "bought out" Kempley and had taken over the business, yet did not notify the state agency of the changes.

Marble also does not have a listed phone number.

An earlier sting on The Sake Club on April 29, found one underage drinker so intoxicated he vomited on himself during the inspection and staff members at the club being paid in cash, with one of the bouncers being a convicted felon, according to the Liquor Authority.

Staff members at The Alley and Today's were also receiving cash and were not on payroll, the agency said.

Nayor said he expects the suspensions to have an immediate impact on downtown nightlife, with fewer crimes such as vandalism and public fighting. It would also send a message to other bar owners, he said.

"If they don't get the message, they are putting their head in the sand," he said.

Nayor acknowledged the underage drinkers will still seek to party.

"Then we will deal with that and address that as well," Nayor said.

Those who host house parties for underage drinkers can incur criminal and civil liabilities, he said.

Charges against The Alley include:

"¢ 15 counts of serving underage patrons.

"¢ Failure to keep and maintain adequate records.

"¢ Failure to exercise adequate supervision over the business.

"¢ Having a sustained and continued pattern of noise, disturbance, misconduct or disorder that adversely impacts the community.

Charges against Today's include:

"¢ Four counts of serving underage patrons.

"¢ Failure to keep and maintain adequate records.

"¢ Employing unlicensed bouncers.

"¢ Failure to exercise adequate supervision over the business.

"¢ Having a sustained and continued pattern of noise, disturbance, misconduct or disorder that adversely impacts the community.

Charges against The Upper Deck/Sake Club include:

"¢ 23 counts of serving underage patrons.

"¢ Serving a visibly intoxicated patron.

"¢ Failure to keep and maintain adequate records.

"¢ Employing unlicensed bouncers.

"¢ Employing a convicted felon in violation of state liquor law.

"¢ Use of a trade name without authorization.

"¢ Keeping liquor in a container other than original packaging.

"¢ Failure to operate under the constraints of the original license.

"¢ Allowing a person not authorized to avail himself of license privileges.

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