The owner of the Backstage Pub & Restaurant will have two hearings this month before the Essex Selectboard and the Vermont Liquor Control Board on whether disciplinary action should be taken against its licenses to serve alcoholic beverages.
Problems continue to mount for the owner, Vincent Dober Sr., 53, of Burlington and his bar at 60 Pearl St., the director of compliance enforcement for the Vt. Liquor Control Department said this week. A new complaint about Dober being impaired while working has been filed, Chief Skyler Genest said in the public notice of hearing.
And VLC now has evidence of Dober pleading guilty in a Crown Point, N.Y. court last December to misdemeanor charges of criminally possessing a weapon and unlawfully possessing a large capacity ammunition feeding device, according to state records. The records note there also was a civil finding against Dober for driving while his ability was impaired by alcohol.
The Essex Selectboard renewed Backstage’s liquor license during a special meeting last Wednesday but also agreed to conduct a hearing on May 7 on whether to suspend or revoke the license due to ongoing concerns. The town later pushed back the date to ensure it “properly warns the hearing,” according to deputy town manager Greg Duggan.
The VLC board set a separate disciplinary hearing for May 16 in Montpelier based on a new complaint that Dober was impaired again while working at the bar about 10 p.m. last Saturday, Genest said. Dober failed to provide a breath test as required, Genest said in the notice of hearing.
Dober agreed to pay a $350 fine on April 11 after being found impaired while tending bar on February 21, records show. That night, Dober’s alcohol level was .172 percent according to the breath test administered by a liquor investigator. As part of the settlement of the first case, Dober agreed to provide a breath test whenever requested by law enforcement.
Backstage was issued a three-day license suspension for a separate violation of having an intoxicated patron that same night. The suspension is expected to begin at the start of business this Friday morning and run until the close of business Sunday night.
Essex police say they’re concerned about the large number of cases directly involved with the bar. There were 26 offenses between Jan. 1, 2017 and April 4, 2018 that generated some kind of police response, Chief Rick Garey said.
Garey said there are at least seven documented DUI cases that came out of Backstage. The other complaints include five assaults, two disorderly conducts, nine intoxicated persons and one drug overdose.
There was one late-reported case of somebody pointing a firearm at another patron and one complaint involving a possible dispute between two motorcycle gangs, the chief said.
The Essex Selectboard did agree to renew the liquor license for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #6689 on Pearl Street but indicated it wanted a letter removing Dober as an officer. Dober, who attended the selectboard meeting, agreed to tender his resignation as post commander.
Municipal manager Evan Teich said this week there are no problems with the operation of the VFW as far as the town is concerned.
Genest said VLC will provide the state board with new information about Dober’s arrest in New York and subsequent convictions last fall.
The case actually began in Addison County when a veteran Vermont State Police trooper stopped Dober’s truck on the New York side of the Champlain Bridge on Sept. 20, 2017, public records show.
Dober showed signs of possible alcohol impairment, according to a sworn affidavit by Vermont Cpl. Justin Busby, who was running radar on Vermont 17 in Addison when he saw a speeding truck, turned on his blue lights and signaled for the driver to pull over.
Busby said the driver, later identified as Dober, continued past Vermont 125 and eventually onto the Champlain Bridge, which connects the two states. Busby detected alcohol and spotted a handgun on the console, the affidavit said. Dober said he had a Ruger .380 in the center console, which Busby seized and determined was loaded.
When prompted, Dober said he had a few other weapons. Busby seized an AR-15, a .40-caliber carbine and a loaded .45-caliber pistol, and placed them on his cruiser hood for officer safety, the affidavit said.
Busby then contacted New York State Police, and a N.Y. trooper subsequently arrested Dober for possessing prohibited weapons and for the alcohol violation, Busby wrote.
By not stopping in Vermont, which has few gun laws, Dober found himself facing multiple charges in New York. It remains unclear if the weapons were ever returned to Dober.
A New York public records request by The Essex Reporter was pending as the newspaper went to press.