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Illegal Alcohol Sales

07/13/2012 at 12:43pm

Top O' MastTop O Mast Owner Arrested
for Illegal Alcohol Sales

Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT) agents arrested Steven Strauss, owner and licensee of the Top O Mast Lounge, 1028 Estero Blvd, on Wednesday, July 11 at the bar.

The arrest report, obtained from DABT, indicates that DABT Agent Sandy Hillard visited Top O Mast on June 20th and met with Strauss. She showed him the licensed premise sketch that is on file with the DABT showing that the licensed premise includes the building, deck and 19 feet of beach coming off the back deck. She issued Strauss an Official Notice advising him of the legally licensed premises. She also advised the owner that a violation could result in criminal charges, as it’s a 2nd degree misdemeanor to sell alcoholic beverages in a manner not permitted by the license. Patrons on the beach would be in violation of the open container ordinance and could be cited.

Strauss told the state agent that he has the right to serve alcoholic beverages to the water’s edge and will continue to do so.

Lee County Deputy Kim Swanson found several Top O Mast patrons consuming at the water’s edge on July 1. Strauss told the deputy that he had an injunction against DABT and that he has the right to serve to the water’s edge until the incident is resolved.

The DABT report indicates otherwise. "As of 07/11/2012 no injunction has been issued.”

Four Florida DABT agents visited Top O Mast on July 10th. While undercover, one of them ordered beer while standing about 125 feet from the deck. According to the report, Strauss was not present, but when a DABT agent spoke with him by phone he admitted serving to the water’s edge and said he’d continue to do so.

The same four DABT agents returned to the Top O Mast the next day, July 11th. Standing about 125 feet from the deck, the same DABT undercover agent again successfully ordered a beer. The arrest report indicates that Strauss was present on the deck of Top O Mast and the beach at the time of the sale.

Strauss was then arrested for violation of Florida State Statute 562.12(1) Beverages sold with improper license or without a license. He was hand-cuffed, searched and transported to the Lee County jail for processing. An arraignment hearing has been set for 8am July 31, 2012. 20th Judicial Circuit Court cases can be followed online at http://www.ca.cjis20.org/home/main/cjis.asp
Strauss-arrest-report-July2012.pdf
(311.51 KB)