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Byzantio Cafe shut for violations: Cops

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Police shuttered the bar Jan. 31 after bringing a civil case in Queens Supreme Court under the city's nuisance abatement law, which allows the city to take civil action to close businesses that are sites of illegal activity.The bar was accused of selling alcohol to minors and allowing drug deals in the open, according to Lt. Daniel Heffernan of the 111th Precinct. Byzantio was allowed to reopen after a court judgment Friday.In addition to the $2,500 penalty, the bar must put in place new measures to prevent underage patrons from drinking, including distributing wristbands to adults over 21 to identify who is allowed to drink.Managers at the bar, located at 45-30 Bell Blvd., could not be reached for comment Friday, but employees denied in November that they had served a drink to 19-year-old Jennifer Grabowski in the early morning of Nov. 10. Grabowski told investigators she had a Long Island Iced Tea with alcohol at Byzantio that night before her car collided with a median on the westbound Grand Central Parkway in Kew Gardens Hills, killing her 18-year-old passenger.Several days after the accident, police conducted an undercover operation in which an underage officer was served a drink, Heffernan said. The same night, police observed an open drug transaction among patrons inside the bar, he said. Police did not act to shut Byzantio until Jan. 31 because they were waiting on lab results from the drugs, he added."I think they have a history that shows they're not a responsible business," Heffernan said, noting that the bar has been in trouble in the past.Heffernan said Byzantio's history includes the following citations:-A June 2004 sale of alcohol to minors-An assault in September 2004 in which a minor had been served alcohol-A December 2004 fight in the bar-A January 2005 sale to minors-Two separate fights on March 27, 2005, after which the bar was briefly closed"This is the third or fourth time they've been nuisance abated in the past four or five years," Heffernan said, although new management took over in April 2005 and the bar had not been cited since then until Grabowski's accident.Grabowski pleaded guilty in December to driving while impaired. She was fined $100, her license was suspended for a year and she was ordered to attend a drunk driving education program.Reporter Adam Pincus contributed to this report. Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 188.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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