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Beating of police officer last straw for Lynn Buchanan Café
By James Haynes
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

LYNN -- City licensing officials voted unanimously to revoke all licenses of the Buchanan Café, where an off-duty Lynn police officer was attacked last week, calling the bar a "constant nuisance," and the attack a "rotten shame."

Members of the Licensing Commission heard testimony from police officers, witnesses, and both the owner and employees of the bar, during an emergency hearing Tuesday, called in the wake of an assault on Lynn Police Lt. Vernon Coleman last Wednesday.

Coleman was eating at the bar, located at the intersection of Eastern and Western avenues, when he was allegedly struck from behind, and subsequently punched and kicked by James Costin. Costin, an alleged Hells Angel and state auditor, is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing this morning.

Attorney David Woods, representing the bar, offered an apology to Coleman, and stressed a commitment to cooperation in ongoing investigations. In a failed bid for clemency, he conceded that employees failed to follow established policies for contacting police following brawls.

"We aren't looking to be exonerated for that," said Wood. "We are just asking not to be executed for it."

Commission members, however, saw serious flaws in employee response to the incident, and criticized bar-owner Sheila Casey's decision to schedule only one employee, her son Tyler Casey, a self-described occasional and untrained bartender, to oversee the establishment on one of the busiest nights of the year.

"With the lack of control on the premises, it's a miracle something more serious hasn't happened," said commission chairman Richard Coppinger. "It is a danger to public safety and a drain on the resources of this city."

Lynn Police officer Edward Pettipas told commissioners the bar, although empty when he arrived, was busy and likely extremely crowded Wednesday, with between 30 and 35 customers drinking in the bar. He also reported Tyler Casey, the only employee apparently working Wednesday night, did not call for either police or ambulance.

Casey told commissioners that a patron had told him that the police had been called. The patron, who also works at the café, had been outside at the time of the fight, speaking on the phone with Sheila Casey. Sheila Casey told police she had called their main number to report the incident.

Police played three recording of calls to 911 and the main number regarding the fight. Casey testified she was the second caller; her call came in approximately one minute after the first, in which a neighbor told police "(The patrons) are going nuts."

Coleman's girlfriend also gave testimony to the commission. Still visibly shaken by the experience, she told commissioners that bar employees did not assist Coleman, and alleged that bartender Tyler Casey was behind the bar throughout the assault.

"The whole time I was in the bar, he was behind the bar," said Coleman's girlfriend, who also told police Casey had told her he would not call police because he wasn't aware a fight had occurred.

Casey, when questioned by the commissioners, disagreed, maintaining that he was in a back room swapping out liquor bottles when Coleman was attacked.

"I definitely did not say those things to her," he said. "That is definitely incorrect."

Casey acknowledged, in retrospect, that he did not have control of the bar on Wednesday. An occasional bartender at his mother's establishment, he estimated he had been tending bar for about a year, only worked one or two nights a week and had not undergone TIPS training. He also testified that he recognized, but did not know Costin, co-defendant Thomas Duda Jr., and a third as-yet unidentified suspect.

"(They have been in) a few times," he said. "But I don't know them, I don't know their names."

Sheila Casey told commissioners that she had been ill for two weeks prior to the incident, and was sick in bed at the time of the fight. She admitted she had not called for medical attention after calling police, but testified it was not her policy to have employees call her before calling police.

Coppinger called her sharply to task for understaffing the bar.

"You believed one employee, under the best of circumstances, was sufficient to keep control of the establishment?" he asked. "I strongly disagree. You had no control of the premises at all, and I think that's the root of the problem here."

Casey declined comment following the commission's ruling. When asked if she planned to appeal the decision, Wood responded "absolutely not."

The hearing attracted several city councilors, and numerous police officers. Police Chief John Suslak said he was pleased with the outcome.

"I think the commission has been very supportive, and they understand full well the importance of public safety in the city," he said.

Subscribing Member
944 Posts
I wonder how many places in total the owner owns?

Scott :pc:

Posted Thu 02 Dec, 2004:

If you get your hands on the herald today turn to page 7 they have a picture from the hospital of the LT. It's not that good of a picture but you can tell he was f'ed up bad.

Scott :pc:

DA: There'll be Hells to pay: Vows crackdown in wake of cop beating
By Tom Farmer
Thursday, December 2, 2004

Promising to meet force with force, North Shore law enforcement officials warned Hells Angels motorcycle gang members to expect no mercy in the wake of a merciless beating allegedly administered by outlaw bikers to a Lynn cop.

In an unprecedented show of force, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett and Lynn Mayor Edward ``Chip'' Clancy joined more than 100 police officers from a half-dozen Lynn-area departments to pack a dangerousness hearing yesterday for two Hells Angels charged in the beating.

``The message is, be prepared,'' Blodgett told area members of the gang who are in the midst of a recruiting drive after laying low for nearly a decade. ``Any gang violence will be met with forcefully. What we have been seeing, not just with this gang, is an attempt to establish themselves here and in other communities.''

After a daylong hearing in Lynn District Court, Judge Ellen Flatley deemed 40-year-old expectant father James Costin a danger to the community and ordered him held without bail. Another Hells Angel, Thomas M. Duda Jr., 35, was expected to be released today on $5,000 cash bail and a list of conditions imposed by the judge.

Costin, who is on unpaid administrative leave as a state auditor, and Duda, a former mason for the Lynn School Department and a New England stock car racer, are charged with inflicting a savage beating on Lynn police Lt. Vernon ``Skip'' Coleman Nov. 24 in the Buchanan Cafe.

Duda's attorney, Michael Cerulli, convinced Flatley to release his client on bail citing testimony from three Lynn cops that Costin punched and kicked Coleman and that witness identification of Duda was not absolute.

Both bikers were supported by family members and friends, including Costin's fiancee, who is past her due date to give birth.

Coleman's beating is the third in a Lynn bar in the past year that authorities link to the Hells Angels, who sources said are ``flexing their muscle'' in an effort to swell their current ranks beyond the 14 known members in the Salem chapter.

``I think it's obvious that the district attorney takes it seriously, the mayor takes it seriously and the police department, and the community at large, takes it seriously,'' said Lynn police Chief John Suslak.

This Is Mr James Costin
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