Liquor license of convicted Newhall restaurant owner under investigation

The Santa Clarita Courthouse. KATHARINE LOTZE/Signal.
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State liquor licensing officials are investigating the license issued to a Newhall restaurant owner convicted Friday of sexual battery and ordered to register as a sex offender.

The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control which issues licenses for alcohol to be sold and served across the state does so on a “case by case basis” and that they live up to a set moral code, a department spokesman told The Signal Tuesday. The ABC has the authority to refuse such a license on the grounds of moral turpitude.

State ABC officials are investigating the liquor license issued to Sam Albert Gardian, co-owner of the Southern Smokehouse BBQ & Brewhouse on Main Street in Newhall, in light of his recent conviction.

“ABC is investigating the matter,” ABC spokesman John Carr told The Signal on Wednesday when asked if the conviction would affect his liquor license.

“ABC may refuse to issue a licence to any person who has violated the ABC Act, has a disqualifying record, or is otherwise disqualified,” he said.

Carr noted: “The department has suspended or revoked ABC licensed businesses when licensees/corporate officers have been convicted of crimes of moral turpitude under section 24200 of the California Business and Professions Code.

Section 24200 spells out the grounds for the suspension or revocation of a liquor permit:

Moral Turpitude is defined as conduct considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals which, according to the section, involve crimes such as theft, fraud, arson, murder, extortion, burglary, financial crimes and sex crimes.

On Friday, a jury found Gardian guilty of four misdemeanor counts including two counts of sexual battery against a woman who in 2016 worked for Gardian at the restaurant.

On Tuesday, the 48-year-old restaurateur was sentenced to 90 days in Los Angeles County jail, ordered to register as a sex offender and ordered to attend anger management counseling.  He was also placed on three years probation, possess no firearms and pay fines and penalties.

During the week-long trial, jurors were told by Deputy District Attorney Taylor Carr, that Gardian, holding a piece of ice, shoved his hand down the back of his employee’s pants, under her underwear and “up against her vagina.”

The second alleged incident of sexual battery was described by Carr as having happened in the restaurant’s parking lot as Castillo was getting into her car.

“He followed her out to the car and grabbed the driver’s door before she could close it,” Carr told the jury.

“He leaned into the cab of the car and shoved his hand down the front of her pants, under her underwear with his hand lingering on her vagina — for what probably, to her, seemed like an eternity — for about four or five seconds.”

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