Former Middletown Bar Owner Sues City
By SHAWN R. BEALS,
The Hartford Courant
2:35 PM EST, November 23, 2012
The former owner of a downtown bar that closed early in 2010 has sued the city and the commissioner of the state Department of Consumer Protection at the time, claiming he was targeted and intimidated by officials and forced to shut down his businesses.
Tyler DeVecchis filed the lawsuit earlier this month in federal court. He opened the Public Bar & Grill in 2008, but its liquor license was temporarily suspended in late 2009 after a large disturbance there and he closed the bar a few months later.
The suit names former Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, former Acting Police Chief Patrick McMahon, former Acting Deputy Police Chief Gregory Sneed, Zoning Enforcement Officer Bruce Driska, Planning Director William Warner, former state Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr. and DeVecchis' former business partner, Sebastian Scalora.
In the lawsuit, DeVecchis' attorney, Sally Roberts, said problems with the city started when the bar became so popular its owners needed to expand. DeVecchis left it to Scalora to secure necessary permits, she wrote.
Roberts said Scalora and Giuliano used to be law partners, and Scalora assumed he could "pull strings" to get the permits, starting a "political war" inside city hall.
The city issued DeVecchis a cease and decist order after renovations were made without the needed permits. The planning and zoning commission retroactively approved the expansion a month before the bar closed, but imposed several restrictions.
"In the end, the plaintiff lost the political war, lost his business and was ruined financially," the lawsuit says.
The suit also accuses Scalora of unethical behavior in negotiating the sale of Public Bar & Grill to another business group.
Mayor Daniel Drew declined to comment on the claims in the lawsuit.
"I don't want to get into the specifics of the complaint, but we'll vigorously defend the city," Drew said Friday.
Scalora could not be reached for comment.
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