The Columbus City Council voted on Monday night to withdraw its objection to The Goat’s liquor-license renewal, after a judge said police had entrapped several of the bar’s employees and found them not guilty of serving alcohol to someone younger than 21. Judge David Tyack ruled that Columbus police detective Steve Rosser induced six of the Northeast Side bar’s employees to sell alcohol to an underage person who came in with him. Three other bar employees pleaded guilty, two of whom received $500 fines. Rosser was involved in each of those cases as well.
According to Tyack’s decision, Rosser was a regular at The Goat, at 5940 New Albany Rd. W., just outside New Albany. The judge noted that Rosser had even played on the bar’s volleyball team and had a previous romantic relationship with a bartender, who now works at a different Goat location. Rosser’s contact information also was displayed at the bar in case someone needed help. “In short, Detective Rosser was both a man and a law enforcement officer who was trusted by these Defendants and considered a friend,” the decision reads. Columbus police did not respond to calls for comment and no manager was available at The Goat to discuss the decision. Jeff Furbee, an assistant city attorney who represents the Police Division, said Tyack’s decision left his office concerned. He said city attorneys are unsure whether this was an isolated issue or something more systemic, but that Columbus police are reviewing it. Bill Sperlazza, an assistant city attorney who handles liquor issues, believes this situation is an outlier, and said he does not have any concerns about this in the future. The city council objected to The Goat’s liquor-license renewal in December, based on a recommendation from the city attorney’s office. Sperlazza said that recommendation was made on the best evidence at the time, and the recommendation changed with the not-guilty verdicts. John Ivanic, a City Council spokesman, said the objection process relies on the case made by the city attorney. If the facts change, he said, then the Council has the ability to withdraw that objection. “The owners still have due process,” he said. A bar can continue to serve alcohol while the objection is being processed, which can take some time.
This year, the city filed objections against two bars for the second consecutive year, because their cases had not been resolved. Matt Mullins, a spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, said The Goat’s hearing was scheduled to take place on June 5, but was delayed at the request of the bar. Tyack’s decision was made on June 1.