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January 20, 2011

Liquor Board inspector accused of consulting for Damian Bohager's newest club

PX00075_9.JPGSo late last week a small brouhaha rightfully erupted at the liquor board meeting.

Pigtown residents brought to the board's attention that one of the agency's inspectors was consulting for a proposed bar, a no-no according to the city charter. The agency immediately began an investigation into the matter.

So far, as Investigative Voice has reported, the inspector, Don Fitzgerald, has been assigned to desk duty.

But speaking to chairman Stephan Fogleman recently, there's this update: Fitzgerald has decided to take a personal, unpaid leave for a week or two.

And Fogleman said the investigation should be wrapped up by the end of next week.

The problem started at a Pigtown community hearing  for a proposed 5,000-square-foot club called Ambrosia that's partially owned by the controversial Damian Bohager, formerly of Fells Point's defunct Bohager's, and one of Maryland's top 50 tax scofflaws last year.

Bohager owed the state nearly $600,000 in unpaid taxes. 

At that meeting, veteran inspector Fitzgerald said he was consulting for Ambrosia to help them navigate the tricky process of opening a new club, the residents said. 

Residents then presented video of the meeting to the liquor board last Thursday, which began an internal investigation that resulted in Fitzgerald's assignment to desk duty the following day. 

By Tuesday morning, Fogleman said, the inspector had decided to take time off on his own dime until the investigation was completed. Executive Secretary Samuel T. Daniels Jr. and chief inspector Ralph Gilliam are conducting the probe.

The board will have to wait on the conclusion of the investigation to vote on Fitzgerald's future, which could include dismissal or a suspension, or, as likely, a slap on the wrist.

Though the city charter forbids inspectors from working with bars that hold licenses, it's not legally clear if it applies to bars that haven't yet received them, like Ambrosia.

In any case, Fitzgerald has retained an attorney to represent him during the investigation, Fogleman said. Fitzgerald couldn't be reached for comment.

While the chairman declined to comment on the specifics on the case, or the discussions that have already taken place, he was equally vague about the investigation's possible outcome, just saying, "It's always disappointing when an accusation of impropriety happens."

The return of Bohager's?

Of course, the other interesting aspect of this story is the return of Bohager, who has been without a megabar of his own since his namesake bar, famous for its college nights and foam parties, closed in 2004.

Back when he quit, to make way for a pricey apartment complex, he told the Sun a megabar  - Bohager's held about 1,250 people - wasn't in his future.

But Ambrosia - where he is one of three prospective owners - would occupy a massive chunk of real estate on the 700 block of Washington Boulevard in Pigtown. And its description sounds like vintage Bohager's: it would have a staff of 15, a full menu, live entertainment, and off-duty police for security.

Residents are concerned the neighborhood will be overwhelmed by its patrons and have been circulating e-mails protesting the club.

The latest came on Wednesday, when the Washington Village Development Association, in an e-mail forwarded by the neighbors' group Pigtown Public Safety, asked residents to write letters of opposition against an Ambrosia.

Sounds like Bohager hasn't lost the touch for controversy.

Photo: Damian Bohager outside Bohager's in 1998 (Baltimore Sun)


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Posted by Erik Maza at 3:15 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Comments

THIS IS ME PRAYING TO THE COMEDY GODS THAT A PIGTOWN VERSION OF BOHAGER'S OPENS UP HOOOOLLLYYYYYY SHIIIIIIIIIII

And I am personally praying that a version of Bohager's never, never, never opens ever again. That place was just SAD

The original Bohager's was one of the best bars ever in Baltimore. They got a little(lot) carried away when they bought Parrot Island back in 99? There used to be 3000 people at Parrot Island and Bohager's combined on any given Friday or Saturday night. The good ole days;)

Anyone who thinks that Damien Bohager should be allowed to open this club in Pigtown, please let him open it next to YOUR house, not ours!

And wouldn't any asset he owned be subject to levy by the state for his back taxes? Sounds like the new owners aren't very bright. Or honest. Who would want to do business with a tax cheat?

DID SOMEONE SAY..BEETLEJUICE? I swear....Bohager looks like Beetlejuice!
He is delusional.......he thinks he can move his hot mess to the West side..WRONG!

Hey if Pigtown won't have him the tax scofflaws in Federal Hill will welcome him as one of their own.

BTW: Fitzgerald has been "consulting" these clowns for years!

Believe me NO ONE wants Damian Bohager in their neighborhood. He is the most perfectly named human I ever had slither near me. Let him pay his taxes back first . He is the ultimate slimebag. Remember me Damian. I was with Delores when she said as long as you were a poop pile she would be flying around you. Here we are again.

Maybe someone should forward this article to Comptroller Franchot. If Damien Bohager has the money to open this bar, then he must have the money to pay all of his back taxes.

I'd really like to know how that works. You OWE the state pretty close to a million bucks, yet you have the money to open a nightclub.

Sounds like Damian Bohager and the idiots who dreamed up this scheme deserve each other.

Ahhhh, good ol' HoBaggers. Quite a few nasty memories of that place...

@Cathy- since when is 600k close to a million dollars. For all we know, Damien could just be a consultant or maybe he has a payment plan already in place with the state.

I am sure that Damien Bohager has paid more taxes than most of us and I am sure that there are just as bad tax scofflaws that are running businesses right next to you.

Just saying...

"devil's advocate"..how appropriate since we're speaking of Damien.....
I just got off the phone with the State of Maryland Comptroller's office.....& guess what? NO PAYMENT PLAN IN PLACE for the hundreds of thousands of dollars OWED to the state NOR to the multitude of people he ripped off.
The State was quite pleased too hear his within their "reach!"
Welcome to Maryland, Damien, HON!

LOL he dry snitched

While I can't speak on the integrity of Damien Bohager, I must agree with Jason Z that the original Bohager's was a phenomenal bar where countless good memories were made...and many others were also forgotten!

Don't hate on DB. Hate on the city of Bmore and MD for letting him get away with it. Remember, if you're not cheatin' you're not trying hard enough. Looks like DB is trying as hard as he can.

The liquor license transfer was denied :'(

i hope to be over there within the year! I heart Pigtown;)

i hope to be over there within the year! I heart Pigtown;)

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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