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Vault faces restrictions to liquor license

The Vault Bistro & Lounge has accepted a $4,950 civil penalty and restrictions on its liquor license in a settlement after the state initially proposed the bar, in downtown The Dalles, lose its liquor license for allegations of serious and persistent problems.

The settlement was reached in May with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, averting a nearly weeklong hearing that Vault owner Michael Leash requested. The liquor license is held by Park Avenue Jones, Inc., with Leash as its president, director and stockholder.

Restrictions include: limiting each patron to possessing no more than one container of alcohol at one time; limiting the amount of alcohol in containers to certain amounts for various types of alcohol; barring patrons from entering or re-entering the Vault after 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights; and having a minimum of three state-licensed security staff on duty Friday and Saturday nights, posted at the front and rear entrances, and in the immediate vicinity of the bar.

Under the settlement agreement, Leash accepts responsibility for the violations alleged by the commission.

Leash did not return several calls for comment.

The liquor control commission charged two violations: first, that there was a two-year history of serious and persistent problems from October 2011 to October 2013, including fights, altercations, harassment and trespass. That was a Category I allegation, the most serious category.

The second was a Category III charge that the Vault allowed two men to act as private security guards Aug. 9-10, 2013, without being state certified to do so.

The final order and settlement agreement noted it was the second time in two years that the Vault had employed unlicensed security personnel and been penalized for it.

Leash has the option of either paying the civil penalty or serving a 30-day license suspension.

The commission recommended a year ago that the Vault have its license revoked after an investigation by the commission’s Public Safety Program.

The investigation was launched a year prior to that, in June 2012, after a large fight outside the Vault that resulted in charges of riot against six people. City police officers were hurt in the melee and the police chief asked the commission to launch the investigation.

The state’s initial proposal to cancel the license, filed in June 2013, found 59 “serious” incidences between October 2011 and March 2013. The state filed an amended proposal in December 2013, which covered an additional time period, until October 2013.

Of those incidents, 50 were fights or the threat of violence. The incidents were drawn not only from police records, but also on internal logs the Vault is required to maintain.

Examples of entries included patrons throwing up on the bar, kicking stools out from under other patrons, breaking bottles on people’s heads in the back parking lot and throwing bottles at passing cars.

Of the nine settlements agreed upon in May by the liquor control commission, the Vault’s carried the highest penalty. Of the other eight penalties, one was for $2,475, one was $1,815, three were for $1,485 and three were for $330.

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