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State authority probing Schenectady bar following recent knife slashings

State authority probing Schenectady bar following recent knife slashings

Owner says bar employs four security guards
State authority probing Schenectady bar following recent knife slashings
The Union Inn is pictured in 2018
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY — A downtown bar is under investigation by state authorities following two knife attacks within a month. 

City police said a person was slashed on Sept. 14 near the Union Inn and a woman suffered facial and neck wounds at the same location last week.

Both slashings occurred in the early-morning hours.

“The SLA’s Enforcement Unit opened an investigation following Saturday’s incident and have been in contact with the Schenectady Police Department,” said William Crowley, a spokesman for the state Liquor Authority. 

The authority can impose sanctions on licensees who violate the law, Crowley said.

In addition to leveling fines, SLA can revoke the liquor licenses of problem locations.

No arrests have been made in connection with the attacks.

Owner Phil Ruggiero said city police found evidence the first slashing actually happened on nearby Barrett Street near The Costumer.

And the slashing last week stemmed from a domestic incident between the victim and her attacker, he said.

"It was a very unfortunate event,” Ruggiero said. "It was very unfortunate for the young lady, and very unfortunate for the establishment.”

Union Inn employs four security guards and utilizes ID scanners, he said. 

But neighboring business owners say problems have been mounting since the tavern was reopened last year after being closed for four years

Rossi & Ditoro Funeral Home co-owner Doreen Ditoro recited a list of complaints caused by late-night bar-goers, including property damage, trampled flowers, illegally parked cars and broken glass strewn across the pavement. 

Ditoro said she has asked Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation (DSIC) workers to hose down vomit from the sidewalks before early-morning funeral services.

“Since they opened, it’s been nothing but trouble,” Ditoro said.

Ditoro recently submitted a flash drive containing hundreds of pictures to the city Police Department, who were not immediately able to provide call volumes to the location on Friday. 

She hailed DSIC for its cleanup efforts, but said Ruggiero hasn’t taken ample responsibility for his rowdy clientele. 

Ruggiero said the location is a thoroughfare for other late-night destinations and his staff does their best to clean up after last call. 

"At the end of the night, our staff cleans up out front and cleans the adjacent properties,” he said.

Bar and restaurant liquor licenses must be renewed every two years. 

The Union Inn’s license was issued on Feb. 26, 2018, and expires on Jan. 31, 2020. 

Renewal, according to the state agency, is principally an administrative function and licensed establishments that apply in a “timely fashion” are commonly renewed.

The most recent license canceled in Schenectady was for the Kreusi Ave Pub at 1302 Lower Broadway in September of 2016 following a melee involving 50 to 60 people. 

The SLA also pulled a temporary permit issued to Patriot24 Bar N Grill at 1363 Lower Broadway on Dec. 31, 2018 and denied a liquor license after someone was shot in front of the bar days earlier. 

Among the formal reasons, according to the SLA’s decision, was that the acting manager was a convicted felon, which is a violation of state Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, and clientele and staff were uncooperative during the investigation. 

The SLA also has the power to issue an immediate emergency suspension of a liquor license when the board determines the continued operation of an establishment is an “imminent threat to the public health and safety,” Crowley said, citing the revocation of the problem-plagued Club Illusion’s license in 2013.

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