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Local News

November 9, 2012

Board revokes eatery's license

Salem: Bangkok Paradise owner accused of selling drugs inside restaurant

A Salem board last night lowered the boom on a downtown restaurant whose owner was arrested last month on a charge of selling drugs inside the establishment.

The Licensing Board revoked the liquor license of Bangkok Paradise, 90 Washington St., three weeks after the owner, Jesus Franco of Salem, was charged with selling more than 300 oxycodone pills to a confidential police informant on two separate occasions this summer.

J.P. Story, the restaurant’s attorney, said he will meet with restaurant representatives to decide whether to appeal the ruling.

The three-member board, which includes two retired police officers, issued two separate decisions on the Aug. 1 and Aug. 7 incidents.

For the first, it suspended Bangkok Paradise’s license for six months. On the second, it revoked it, effective on May 11, which is when the six-month suspension ends.

Although board members didn’t discuss the implications of their ruling, it appears to give Franco six months to sell the all-alcohol license before he loses it and it is returned to the state.

For the time being, the once-popular Thai restaurant will be closed because its food license is part of its liquor license, the city attorney said. To reopen as a restaurant that doesn’t sell alcohol, it will have to request a separate food license from the board.

The Licensing Board acted swiftly following a public hearing that lasted about a half-hour. Lt. Stephen Bona, who was part of a multi-agency drug investigation, was the lone witness. Story, a Salem attorney who represented the restaurant, asked only a few questions.

Franco, 42, of 34 Perkins St., was not present. A restaurant manager and another employee accompanied the attorney but did not speak.

Board Chairman Robert St. Pierre, a retired Salem police chief, made the motions for penalties.

While conceding that Franco is innocent until proven guilty, St. Pierre noted that the board is allowed to act following an arrest and contended that this case is serious enough to merit a swift and stern response. He rejected Story’s plea for a lesser penalty.

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