Penalty Box charged with $500 fine, 7-day suspension

After three months of continuances, the Penalty Box owners were charged with a $500 fine and a seven-day suspension at an evidentiary hearing Tuesday.

The owners must pay the fine within 45 days. Also, the Penalty Box liquor license will be suspended at 6 a.m. March 2 and run until 6 a.m. March 9. Because this was their second violation, the co-owners, Sabrina Henderson and William Nelson were charged the minimum sentence for a second violation.

Mayor Larry Rennels said the dates for the suspension were chosen because it would be the week before Spring Break, and unofficial St. Patrick’s Day is coming up.

“March 7 and March 8 is when it is scheduled to be unofficial St. Pattie’s Day in Champaign and sometimes that makes its way down to Charleston so they will be suspended those two nights,” Rennels said.

There was agreement reached between the city, represented by Rachel Cunningham, and the Penalty Box owners, represented by Steven Friedel, an attorney from the Tapella and Eberspacher law firm in Charleston, for two of the three liquor license violations to be dismissed.

The co-owners were indicted with allowing patrons under the age of 21 into the restaurant without purchasing food, allowing them to sit at the bar and allowing patrons to walk and stand about the establishment while consuming and alcoholic beverages.

This was in violation of the Penalty Box Class D liquor license, which requires the establishment to act as a restaurant and not a bar.

They were only charged allowing patrons to stand and walk throughout the restaurant while consuming alcohol.

Rennels said he was willing to dismiss the other two counts if they plead guilty to the third count.

If they are found within violation of the liquor license for a third time within one year, the Penalty Box owners could see a minimum of $750 and-or a 30 day liquor license suspension. Rennels said under more extreme circumstances, they could even see a $1,000 and-or a revocation of their liquor license.

Jarad Jarmon can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]