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Bars cited for not following COVID-19 orders

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The Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) cited several Athens bars Monday stemming from complaints that the bars violated orders in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to an OIU media release.

Stephen’s on Court, The Crystal and The C.I. received an administrative citation for “improper conduct” and “disorderly activity.” The citations were issued the weekend of July 4. All three bars are located on Court Street.

Stephen’s was also cited for “sales to an intoxicated person,” “permitting removal of an alcoholic beverage sold for on premises consumption,” “insanitary condition,” “failure to notify the division of expansion or change to the permit premises,” and “operating more than two fixed bars.”

The bars could potentially receive penalties — including fines and/or the suspension or revocation of their liquor permits — when the cases go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.   

The citations against the three establishments are a result of a “trace-back investigation from a fatal crash,” according to the press release.

The crash occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. on July 4, when a 2012 Jeep Wrangler, driven by 21-year-old Christopher M. Witcher Jr., attempted a sudden left turn on Stewart Street into a parking lot and struck a pole. Dion Terrence Hill-Delaney, one of the passengers, was ejected from the vehicle. Hill-Delaney, 24, subsequently died from sustained injuries. 

OIU agents conduct trace-back investigations when determining whether alcohol was illegally sold to someone involved in an alcohol-related crash or incident. According to the press release, the crash, which remains under investigation, is suspected to have been impacted by alcohol involvement.

“During the investigation, agents watched surveillance video at the three locations and were able to determine that each of them had violated the ODH orders on July 4, the night of the fatal crash,” the release said. “In all three cases agents observed patrons walking around with alcoholic beverages, standing shoulder to shoulder, no social distancing and employees not properly wearing masks,” the press release stated.

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