Judge: Criminal case can continue against corporate owners of The PageBy JAMES A. KIMBLE
Union Leader Correspondent
October 07. 2013 6:24PM
BRENTWOOD — A judge ruled that prosecutors can continue pursuing criminal charges against the corporate owners of The Page Restaurant, the former Portsmouth establishment where a Dover man was fatally beaten in April.
Judge N. William Delker rejected arguments by a lawyer for New Adventure Entertainment LLC that the corporation cannot face charges for serving alcohol in a restricted area because state law makes no mention of whether alcohol on dance floors is prohibited.
Their trial against the corporation is set for Oct. 28 in Rockingham County Superior Court.
The basement level dance floor — called the Stadium Lounge — was where a bar patron leveled fatal blows to the head of 24-year-old Joshua Krantz on April 5. Krantz later died from his injuries.
“The question is not whether dancing in fact takes place in the Stadium Lounge, nor is it even whether the Commission can issue permits to serve liquor on a dance floor,” Delker said in his seven-page decision.
A jury will have to determine, “whether the ‘area’ of the Stadium Lounge dance floor was approved for service or consumption by the liquor commission. If not, the conduct is clearly and unambiguously prohibited by (state law),”Delker said.
The judge’s decision marks the latest court action involving the downtown nightspot.
On Thursday, a jury convicted Josiah Mayo, 26, of first- and second-degree assault for kicking another patron during a confrontation on July 15, 2012, after the two had left The Page at closing time.
He is expected to be sentenced next month. Mayo faces up to 7½ to 15 years in prison.
The man accused of killing Krantz, Zachary O’Neill, 24, of Dover, is charged with manslaughter and first-degree assault. Prosecutors say O’Neill attacked Krantz because he was angry about having a drink spilled on him earlier in the night.
Matthew Stachowske, a lawyer for New Adventure Entertainment, argued at a hearing last month that 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.
Owners of The Page agreed to shutter their business on June 21 as part of an agreement with the City of Portsmouth.
Prosecutors brought separate criminal charges against New Adventure Entertainment LLC in May for serving alcohol on the dance floor at The Page. Only the corporation is charged and faces criminal liability, not the individual owners, according to the indictments.
Each charge is punishable by up to a $100,000 fine, according to prosecutors.