ELKTON — Investigators have filed charges against the owner of a Port Deposit bar and restaurant, after he allegedly violated a gubernatorial emergency order that prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people - one of several such directives issued by Gov. Larry Hogan since March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Cecil County District Court records.
Maryland State Police Tfc. Mingle charged 58-year-old Charles "Bud" Harry Craven Jr., who owns Lee's Landing Dock Bar at 600 Rowland Drive, with two violations of Maryland Emergency Management Administration regulations, court records show.
The most serious misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine, alleges that - during business on Sunday - Craven willfully violated an order prohibiting on-premises consumption of food and drink served by bars, restaurants and similar establishments, a directive aimed at preventing crowds of more than 10 people.
Carrying a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, the second misdemeanor charge filed against Craven is nearly identical to the other count - but it lacks the "willful" violation distinction.
Craven was not arrested but instead, Mingle, who is assigned to the North East Barrack, issued him criminal summonses on Wednesday, court records show.
In his written statement of probable cause in court records, Mingle reports witnessing more than 10 people at Lee's Landing Dock Bar on Sunday.
"I observed approximately 25 persons on the 'boardwalk' portion of the business. Troopers who arrived on the scene prior to my arrival advised there were approximately 70 persons congregating of the 'boardwalk and dock portion of the business," Mingle alleged in charging documents.
While noting that some of the people he saw were waiting for carryout food for which they had paid, which is a legal practice for eateries under the governor's emergency directive, Mingle further reported that a larger number of people were seen consuming food and drink on the premises, which violates the emergency order, court records show.
"I observed a male and female sitting at an exterior booth, which is part of Lee's Landing Dock Bar's dockside seating, consuming food and alcoholic beverages," according to Mingle's statement of probable cause.
Court records also allege that Mingle found four Facebook posts on the Lee's Landing Dock Bar page advertising food and mixed drinks available on that Sunday, April 19 - with no mention that it was for takeout, or to-go food, only.
"While on scene I observed an exterior trash can overflowing with what appeared to be recently disposed of drink and food containers," Mingle notes in charging documents.
Also, according to court records, Craven had received a verbal warning from law enforcement officers on April 11, when a similar situation had occurred at that waterfront business.
Dave Carey, managing owner, told the Cecil Whig on Monday that there were no more than 10 motorcycles on the property and that proper distancing of customers waiting in line for pick up only was being observed.
To stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, Hogan first closed all restaurants except for those that would offer delivery or carry-out along with casinos, movie theaters and other large locations. The idea was to limit the size of crowds that could spread the virus. In the ensuing weeks, the crowd size was reduced further to 50 or less, and now less than 10. Masks must also be worn inside stores and on public transportation.