American Legion post facing revocation of liquor license

Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2003

SITKA (AP) Sitka's American Legion Post 13 is facing revocation of its liquor license following charges that three employees and two patrons sold drugs on the premises, the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said Tuesday.

ABC board director Doug Griffin said that this is the most serious case he has seen in at least the last five years.

''We deal with all kinds of things, gambling, Super Bowl pools. We're talking here of selling a laundry list of drugs out of a licensed establishment. A place basically serving as drug central in Sitka.''

''It's a huge deal,'' said ABC investigator Ed Kalwara, from his Juneau office. ''This is a very major case.''

In addition to the complaint against the Legion club, the individuals allegedly involved face criminal charges.

Police Chief Bob Gorder said misdemeanor charges have been filed against two of the club employees and a felony count is pending against a third.

Even if only a few people are involved in drug offenses in a licensed establishment, the ABC Board is authorized to suspend or revoke the license.

''We, of course, look at this at being at the high end of severity,'' Griffin said. ''We still feel dealing in this kind of activity on a licensed premises, that licensees should know what's going on. They are held ultimately responsible.''

Ray Perkins, a Post 13 board member, said the board had a meeting Friday to discuss the ABC accusation. He said that of the three identified as employees, two were actually volunteers, and all were dismissed from their jobs. He said the Post 13 board revoked memberships for everyone named in the ABC accusation.

The top Legion official in Alaska, Cmdr. Jim Van Horn, said he believed Post 13 is working to correct the problems.

''It's unfortunate when a few individuals give the organization a black eye. They are taking corrective steps, such as mandatory drug testing for employees ... so when they go before the board they will consider that,'' Van Horn said.

Gorder and Kalwara said the investigation began over two years ago when some members of Post 13 requested an investigation into possible illegal activities at the Legion hall.

The ABC investigation focuses on three people; Raymond Howard, who was employed by the Legion as a kitchen helper; Al Siftsoff, who was employed as a bartender; and patron Bryan Bagby.

The ABC alleges that Howard, Siftsoff and Bagby on various occasions in 2002 and 2003 sold marijuana to undercover agents. It also says that Bagby on one occasion sold cocaine to an undercover agent, who purchased the drug at Bagby's home.

It says Legion patron Bertrand Kirkman sold two painkiller plus codeine tablets to an undercover agent and employee Roberta martin sold eight painkiller plus codeine tablets to an undercover agent.

Bagby is currently facing several felony drug charges in relation to a raid on his home in March.

The investigation was a cooperative effort involving the ABC board, the Sitka Police Department and the Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs multi-agency task force, Gorder said.

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