, Salem, MA

July 16, 2013

Council revokes vendor's license

Assault charge costs hot-dog seller his livelihood


---- — BEVERLY — A hot-dog vendor accused of assaulting an 86-year-old man is now out of business.

The City Council voted unanimously last night to revoke the license of John Doyle, who was arrested June 1 and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person over 65 and with making threats to kill a witness after a night of drinking.

Doyle’s lawyer, Ronald Ranta, argued that the incident was unrelated to Doyle’s work as a hot-dog vendor and told councilors that his client was taking steps to deal with an alcohol problem.

But councilors ultimately went along with the recommendation of police Chief Mark Ray, who asked the council to revoke Doyle’s peddlers license after what he called a “serious assault of a senior citizen.”

“I’ve known Mr. Doyle a long time, and I take no pleasure in this,” Councilor Jim Latter said. “How can we attest to his character when he’s guilty of assault? I can’t reconcile the two.”

Doyle has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in court, but Ranta told councilors to consider Doyle guilty when making their decision on whether to revoke his peddlers license.

According to the police report, Doyle, 57, of 5 Blaine Ave., and the victim were leaving the Italian Community Center on Rantoul Street when Doyle began punching the man in the head and face “without reason,” knocking off and breaking his glasses.

When the elderly man tried to get away by running through the parking lot, Doyle followed and continued to attack him, according to the report. At one point, witnesses said, Doyle knocked the man to the ground and kicked him.

The incident prompted Ray to ask the City Council to suspend Doyle’s peddlers license, which allows him to sell hot dogs at Dane Street Beach on weekends and on River Street near the train station on weekdays.

As police chief, Ray said the city requires him to sign a “certificate of character” certifying that an applicant for a peddlers license is of “good repute for morals and integrity.” He said he would not have signed off on Doyle’s peddlers license had the incident occurred beforehand.

The council held a hearing on the matter two weeks ago but put off a decision until last night’s meeting. Ranta told councilors last night that Doyle has already been punished since it has been 42 days since the council suspended his license.

“My client has lost 42 days of what is essentially a seasonal business, and this is his busy time,” Ranta said.

Councilor Don Martin said he was struggling with the connection between a “bar fight and selling hot dogs during the day.”

“Does that bar fight disqualify him from selling hot dogs?,” Martin said. “Does a bar fight put citizens in danger? I don’t think that case has been proven.”

Latter said the incident was not a bar fight but “an assault on an 86-year-old senior citizen.”

“I find it extraordinarily difficult to override the chief’s decision,” Latter said.

Councilor Wes Slate commended Doyle on his efforts to deal with his alcohol problem but said he supported Ray’s recommendation to revoke the license.

Councilors Brett Schetzsle and Maureen Troubetaris said they would vote to revoke Doyle’s license but also urged him to reapply in the future.

“If he maintains a clean record he should apply,” Troubetaris said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or