Portsmouth nightspot disputes criminal charges
BRENTWOOD — A lawyer representing a shuttered Portsmouth nightspot where a 24-year-old Dover man was fatally beaten argued to a judge on Wednesday that the shell corporation for The Page Restaurant cannot face criminal charges.
"Their interpretation of the statute is fundamentally flawed," lawyer Matthew Stachowske said about prosecutors' decision to seek two felony indictments against New Adventure Entertainment LLC.
The corporation is charged with two counts of serving alcohol in a restricted area.
Stachowske asked Judge N. William Delker to dismiss the criminal case, which is seeking up to $100,000 in fines on each charge.
Stachowske suggested his client could only face administrative action by the state's Liquor Commission — not criminal charges — because New Hampshire's liquor laws do not specifically address whether patrons can consume liquor on a dance floor.
The two indictments alleging the corporation illegally served alcohol on a basement-level dance floor were brought alongside manslaughter charges against Zachary O'Neill, 24, of Dover.
Prosecutors say O'Neill leveled fatal blows to the head of Joshau Krantz, 24, of Dover just before closing time on April 6 in response to having a drink spilled on him earlier in the night. Krantz died at his Dover apartment from repeated punches to the head.
Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway argued that the Page has a restaurant license that explicitly stated it could only serve liquor in designated areas such as tables, the bar and drink rails.
Conway acknowledged that the law makes no specific mention of dance floors, but argued that liquor licenses clearly designate the specific areas where drinks can be served.
The Page closed its doors permanently on June 21 once the city filed a petition with the state Liquor Commission to terminate the bar's liquor license.
A Jan. 27 trial date has been set for O'Neill in Rockingham County Superior Court.
Delker will ultimately decide whether the case against New Adventure Entertainment LLC can move forward to trial.
The corporation already turned down a plea deal by county prosecutors in which it would plead guilty and pay a $75,000 fine, according to court documents.
Delker said Wednesday he will take the arguments under advisement while he makes his decision.