The Worcester License Commission Gave Out Liquor Licenses To A Convicted Drug Dealer Spending Millions Of Dollars Because Apparently No One Can Google Anymore
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Is Worcester turning into Providence? Seems like it’s trying to. Providence has a beautiful downtown with awesome shopping and restaurants. But the second you start traveling south it looks like shit. Worcester is more of a residential city. Downtown looks like shit and no one wants to visit us, but the entire West Side (which probably has close to 60,000 people), is like a mega suburb of single family homes and people walking their dogs.
But Providence didn’t get that way by accident. The city was run by Buddy Cianci for years, and the guy was basically a mobster. He handed out city contracts to whoever bribed him the most, and he treated the city police force like they were the foot soldiers of his empire. But during this time he made downtown Providence what it is today, which is why he was viewed as a “great mayor,” despite serving five years in prison for racketeering.
Sad to see this. Crooked, yes. But genuinely great major of special city Mayor Vincent 'Buddy' Cianci Dies At 74 https://t.co/8ZJFQRv2k2
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 28, 2016
So since the city of Providence was basically built the mob and drug money, it looks like Worcester’s urban renewal is taking the same battle plan. Check out the latest scandal:
When Worcester-based restaurant group Niche Hospitality sold its prime Shrewsbury Street location to an entrepreneur looking to get into the restaurant business last year, president Michael Covino had high hopes the property would continue the legacy created by Niche restaurants Mezcal and later The Fix Burger Bar. “Clearly we were in the dark,” Covino said during an interview Wednesday morning.
That entrepreneur, Kevin A. Perry Jr., who went on to convert the former Niche property into The Usual, a gourmet sandwich restaurant, was arrested and indicted Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts on nine counts of money laundering, three counts of aggravated cash structuring, one count of making a false statement on a loan application and one count of distribution of fentanyl.
“It’s disheartening on a lot of levels,” said Covino who says he wanted to help the new business owner, but did not know Perry had previously been convicted on drug charges and served time in prison.
Authorities now allege Perry used drug money last year to finance nine properties and fund renovations at The Usual and The Blackstone Tap, a Water Street bar and restaurant he purchased from Jefferson Mararian, of Northborough, last year. Covino, who’s Niche Hospitality Group arguably launched the Worcester dining renaissance more than a decade ago and has made Worcester icons out of Mezcal, The Fix, Bocado Tapas Wine Bar and The Citizen, said there was nothing that tipped him off that Perry was anything but an entrepreneur with business experience, backed by a bank loan and hungry to dive into Worcester’s booming restaurant scene.
“The way he came across was professional,” Covino said of Perry, who approached Niche about buying the location. “Kevin’s attorney was someone we knew and he had a loan from the bank. We don’t do background checks on people who want to make a purchase. The bank does that.”
Covino said he and his staff helped Perry get The Usual off the ground. “We wanted it to be successful for a lot of reasons,” Covino said. “We made a lot of memories there.” Niche first opened Mezcal at the location in 2007 before it outgrew the space and moved. The Fix followed and later outgrew the space as well.
Breaking news from the Telegram!! Convicted criminal and bombshell wife pose for picture in new restaurant! pic.twitter.com/xPIBu0i5lH
— Party Waren Kebber (@WebbDawgTG) March 23, 2017
Alright, first of all, love Niche Hospitality. Can’t say enough good things about Bocado and The Fix in particular. Some of the best food in Worcester. Mike Covino is a well respected, and probably very rich and successful businessman, whose businesses contribute a significant amount of taxes to the city. These are good things.
But at the same time, how do you not do a background check when you’re selling a piece of property to someone for half a million dollars? I could understand if you were just desperate for a buyer. But not when your motivation for selling to this guy is that you wanted his business to be successful for the sentimental reasons. It’s one thing if you just say, “Yea, I’m doing this because this guy is the highest bidder.” But if you care about the alleged character of this piece of property, and you want to make sure it falls into capable hands, why wouldn’t you do a background check?
This is where it gets ridiculous…..
Covino said Niche’s creative staff and chefs worked with Perry’s staff to help plan the new restaurant. In fact, Covino appeared before the License Commission on Aug. 11, 2016 along with Perry’s wife, Stacey Perry, as part of the all-alcohol license application for The Usual. Stacey identified herself to the commission as Stacey Gala (her maiden name). Kevin Perry, who at that point had a past drug conviction and would have been ineligible to receive a license, did not testify at the hearing.
In November of last year in a MassLive story on the opening of The Usual, Perry lauded Covino and his staff for their assistance.
“He’s been with me every step of the way, helping us with different renovation ideas, staffing, discussing the details,” Perry said. “He’s been a godsend for us. I’ve learned more in the past two or three months than I could’ve ever learned by myself.”
Alright. So a convicted drug dealer and jailhouse snitch wants to open up a restaurant and needs a liquor license. So he goes in front of the License Commission, but he can’t speak because his prior convictions made him ineligible for a license.
And everyone was just, COOL with this?? Covino and Perry’s wife Stacey, who apparently is young and hot and has a thing for ex-cons, did the speaking for him while he did a sodoku in the corner. But why would Covino feel the need to help him get a liquor license? The sale was done, wasn’t it? More importantly, did the License Commission think that Perry would have nothing to do with the restaurant? I mean, it’s his freaking wife!! Do they not use Google either?? Does no one use Google anymore?
Anyway, Mike Covino can’t be blamed for any of this. He has no reason to purposely associate his good name with someone this shady. Too much to lose. Sounds like he learned a valuable lesson here that Turtleboy learned a long time ago – the Internet is your friend.
But here’s the thing – this is basically the same blueprint that made Providence a nice looking city. Don’t get me wrong, drugs are bad and drug dealers are scum. But here’s the question – would you rather have another Blackstone Tap on Water Street, or another Mambo Drink? The fact of the matter is that this guy exists, and he made a shit ton of money selling drugs. So how would you like that money to be spent? On a vacation for him and his junior smokeshow wife? Sitting in the evidence room collecting dust? Or on two nice restaurants that attract non-ratchet clientele? Just sayin.
P.S. This came up when we searched for Kevin Perry in Worcester. If this is him (which it looks a lot like him) then apparently he also dabbles in modeling. No nudes though.
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