Harry & Izzi's sought a 3-way permit for its new restaurant/bar in Circle Centre Mall. The applicant is a limited liability company. Indiana law is clear none of the members of the LLC can be a law enforcement officer. However, Brizzi's ownership is represented as a shareholder in a corporation which owns 95% of the LLC. The ATC has never promulgated rules to address a remote ownership interest. The opinion reads, in part:
The ATC has yet to promulgate rules relating to remote ownership of an applicant. Internal policies followed by the ATC over the years should be given appropriate consideration as a rule promulgation process is pursued. Earlier policies, while not binding, may have resulted in actions being taken in licensure matters that may have had unforeseen consequences. That is within the regulatory discretion of the ATC, and may be addressed through the promulgation of rules.
It is our opinion that the ATC is statutorily prohibited fiom issuing a retail alcohol beverage permit to an Indiana Limited Liability Company ("LLC") restaurant owner, one of whose members is a law enforcement officer. The statute does not address more remote ownership. The ATC has the authority to further regulate in this area but no rules have been promulgated that would extend the statutory requirements or prohibitions on applications for permits.
Offering this pathetic reponse to the AG's opinion, ATC Chairman Heath is quoted by the Star's Jon Murray as saying "the commission now has the legal cover to allow Brizzi's investment in Harry & Izzy's." "Brizzi said he planned to buy back a nearly 10 percent share worth $80,000 later today. " "It appears there is nothing that prohibits" Brizzi from taking part, Heath said.
Brizzi should be ashamed as one of the state's leading law enforcement officers to use this loophole to skirt the law's purpose. By failing to administratively act to address this problem, Chairman Heath has also, in effect, created an exception which will consume the rule. At a time when Brizzi should be focused on our spiraling crime problem here in the state's capitol city, he's instead consumed by the desire to make a quick buck in the private sector. I've already received a solicitation in the mail addressed by Brizzi promoting an event at Harry & Izzi's. We re-elected a full-time prosecutor last fall. If Brizzi would rather be involved in the bar/restaurant business, perhaps he should give the job up to someone with the intention of devoting full-time to the job.