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Police pass hockey case to city attorney

The investigation into accusations of underage drinking by Gophers men’s hockey players at Blarney Pub and Grill made progress Wednesday – five months after it began.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s licensing investigation unit presented evidence to the city attorney Wednesday morning. The city’s investigation focuses on whether Blarney owner Mike Mulrooney violated his liquor license by serving alcohol to underage teammates in the fall.

Now it’s up to the city attorney to determine whether charges will be brought against the Dinkytown restaurant and bar.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said the University won’t close its investigation until the city’s case is closed.

“We can’t know exactly what the timetable and the outcome is of the Minneapolis investigation and we can’t absolutely tie our hands to that independent inquiry,” Rotenberg said. “However, we would like to make sure we have all the available information before we make a conclusion.”

Lt. Robert Skomra, commander of the licensing investigation unit, said the city attorney will announce after reviewing the case whether charges will be brought in the probe.

“We want them to review it as thoroughly and completely as they can and under no time constraints,” Lt. Skomra said.

Lt. Skomra also said the attorney’s office would not give a time frame for its review of the case.

“If the attorney reviewing (the investigation) wants us to do some more follow-up, we’ll have to do that,” he said.

If Blarney is found in violation of its liquor license, law professor Fred Morrison said, consequences will follow.

“Normally what happens in these cases is that any violations will be punished,” Morrison said.

Fox 9 News aired undercover footage of what it said was five underage hockey players drinking at Blarney over a two-month period.

After the segment aired Nov. 6, the University and the city of Minneapolis opened separate investigations into the allegations.

The student-athletes at the center of the probe might receive penalties from the National Collegiate Athletic Association in addition to possible University and legal punishments.

These students, however, should not be the sole center of attention in this case, Rotenberg said.

“Excessive drinking and underage drinking is generally a great concern of the University community and I think that is really where the focus should be – not on a limited, very small group of student-athletes,” he said.

As for Blarney Pub and Grill, violation of liquor license stipulations could be detrimental or even fatal for business, Morrison said

“The punishment may be a suspension for a number of days or weeks. But if it looks like the bar is intentionally doing this, the license could be revoked,” he said.

The University hopes to close its investigation soon, Rotenberg said.

“(The investigation) has taken longer than we had hoped. We’re going to try to wrap this up as soon as possible.”

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