Toad’s inquiry continues

Although it has been nearly four months since Toad’s Place was raided by the Connecticut Liquor Control Commission, the LCC has yet to publicly release the findings of their investigation.

LCC spokeswoman Claudette Carveth said the ongoing investigation of Toad’s is proceeding at a normal rate, but she could not provide a date for when the investigation will be complete. Though some Yale students said they wondered why the investigation was taking so long, Carveth said it fits the normal time frame for most LCC cases.

“Four months is not a long time,” she said. “It’s actually very normal.”

Carveth said she could not elaborate on the findings of the investigation at this time, but also said that the time it would take to resolve the investigation depends on a variety of factors, in particular the scope of the work the LCC must do.

“[It can] depend on the number of individuals that might be involved, the availability of documentation, and the availability of individuals that need to give first-hand accounts,” she said.

Toad’s owner Brian Phelps could not be reached for comment, but told the News in early November that he thought the investigation would be complete by January at the latest. Eighty-seven underage patrons were detained by New Haven Police at the club after LCC agents and members of the NHPD raided it in the late evening hours of Nov. 5, Phelps said. He said many of the students were not from Yale and that although several students were detained, no arrests were made.

Toad’s was last raided due to complaints of serving alcohol to minors in September 2001. The club was fined $25,000 and was forced to shut down for a week on 12 specific violations of Connecticut liquor statutes, including selling alcohol to minors.

But Phelps said that this time, his club is not legally responsible for underage drinking and plans on fighting any attempts to fine or shut down Toad’s, which has been a popular hangout for Yale and Quinnipiac University students for decades. After the 2001 raid, Phelps said the club purchased a sophisticated ID scanning machine meant to detect fake IDs and weed out underage patrons. Still, Phelps said students may have fake IDs that look realistic enough to fool the scanner.

“They found a couple of fake IDs,” he said. “But they can’t hold us liable for that because we installed a machine at the entrance that we use to screen [IDs]. The law says that if we use these machines, we aren’t responsible.”

Some Yale students agreed that Toad’s should not be held legally responsible for the underage patrons caught drinking during the Nov. 5 raid. Jenna Friedenthal ’08, who said she frequents Toad’s, said she thinks Toad’s genuinely tries to detect fake IDs and that she does not see the value in penalizing the club.

Carveth said the findings of the report will be released at an administrative hearing at the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection headquarters in Hartford. She said anyone who is cited in the final report will be invited to the hearing and will be given the opportunity to present evidence contrary to charges against them.

Other New Haven establishments have also come under investigation for underage drinking in recent years. Naples Pizzeria, which was raided in October 2001 by the NHPD, paid $12,500 worth of fines to the Liquor Control Division and had its liquor license permanently revoked.

Toad’s Place, above, awaits the results of an investigation by the Connecticut Liquor Control Commission.
jeff white
Toad’s Place, above, awaits the results of an investigation by the Connecticut Liquor Control Commission.

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