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Back on June 12th, we reported that the ABC refused to provide information about two ABC permit holders that according to statements made by ABC attorney Milton Lueken, were issued permits in violation of ABC regulations.  As of this date the ABC and DFA have refused to respond to any requests regarding Lueken’s statement and these two questionable permits.

This information was “leaked” by Lueken in an administrative hearing regarding Louis A. Sheppard’s application for an ABC permit. Pay particular attention the word application. That word will be important later in this story.

Louis Sheppard made an application for an ABC permit back in October 2011. Sheppard’s application for a permit was conditionally approved by the ABC Board.  It is important to note that the application for his permit was conditionally approved, there was no permit issued. ABC Regulation 1.35 requires that any conditions attached to the granting of a permit be met within 12 months or the application will be cancelled. Sheppard was granted two extensions and he had a final deadline of December 31, 2012 to meet the conditions.

On December 31, 2012, Sheppard notified the ABC Board that he was ready for a final
inspection. The ABC sent Enforcement Agent Seletia Smith (now Powell) to inspect the
premises on January 2, 2013. Smith conducted an inspection on January 2, 2013 and her hand written note clearly states that the building is in compliance with our regulations.

On January 4, 2013 the ABC director at the time, Michael Langley, received a letter from Charles Singleton, a former ABC Director and attorney for an individual that wanted the application slot that Sheppard was awarded. Singleton makes allegations about Sheppard's application and requests that a hearing be held. Singleton did not send a copy of his letter to Sheppard.  Some might consider Singleton's contact with Langley to be improper.

After receiving Singleton's letter, it appears that Smith-Powell changed her findings about Sheppard's location being ready to open.

Was Smith-Powell directed to change her findings or did Smith-Powell not actually make an inspection on January 2, 2013, the day after celebrating New Year's Eve?

On February 8, 2013 the ABC sent a letter to Singleton stating that based on his allegations about Sheppard's application an administrative hearing was being scheduled.  They ABC did not send Sheppard a copy of this letter.

The ABC sent Sheppard a separate letter advising him of the hearing.

In the administrative hearing, Smith-Powell claims she made two visits.

Either Sheppard's place was in compliance or it wasn't.  From the information available it appears that Smith-Powell simply said it was in compliance when it wasn't which questions her credibility and the ABC for keeping her on as an employee. 

The administrative hearing was a three ring circus.  It's clear from reading the transcript  that the ABC Board let Singleton, the former director and an adversary of Sheppard, run the show as the ring master. Singleton brought up a deceased daughter of Sheppard's that had nothing whatsoever to do with the hearing.The Board never said anything about Singleton when he got out of line and Sheppard objected but the pounced on Sheppard every chance they could.

Note:  The redactions in the transcript were made by us.  The ABC filed un-redacted documents with the circuit court.  The ABC provided Sheppard's date of birth, social security number and other personal information which can be used by identity thieves. The information is available to anyone with Internet access. 

The Board voted to revoke Sheppard's permit. That's rather odd, because a permanent was never issued to Sheppard it was his application that was conditionally approved.  Once he met the conditions then a permit would be issued.

Sheppard appealed the ABC Board's decision in circuit court (they ruled in favor with the board) and then with the appeals court.

The appeals court sided with the ABC. However one judge, Robin Wynne took the ABC and their attorney Mary Robin Casteel to task.  Judge Wynne agreed that something was sketchy about the whole hearing and that the ABC Board took back a permit that was never issued.

How embarrassing for the ABC. We recommend that you watch the video of the oral arguments and take a look at Casteel get grilled.

Shame on the ABC and the ABC Board for their actions in dealing with Sheppard.  Shame on the ABC for giving out Sheppard's information so that identity thieves can use his information. 

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