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Trump Golf Club May Lose Liquor License Over Fatal Car Crash

New Jersey officials are moving to revoke the liquor license at one of President Donald Trump’s golf clubs, which they say continued to serve a man who was already intoxicated and got into a fatal car crash shortly after leaving the club in 2015.

If successful, the move, first reported by The Washington Post, would be a financially damaging blow to the club, in Colts Neck, depriving it of the ability to meet the needs of thirsty golfers coming off the course and wedding parties eager to celebrate into the night.

The potential punishment is described in an Oct. 21 letter sent to the golf club by the office of the New Jersey attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, who was appointed to the position last year by Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat.

President Donald Trump speaks during a dinner with business leaders at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Aug. 7, 2src18. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

President Donald Trump speaks during a dinner with business leaders at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Aug. 7, 2018. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

The letter gives the golf club 30 days to contest the move. If the license is ultimately revoked by the state, the decision could be challenged in court or the club could seek to have it reinstated in two years.

A representative of the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.

The club in Colts Neck, near the Jersey Shore, is one of three in New Jersey that Trump owns. The ability of the others, in Bedminster and Pine Hill, to sell alcohol could also be threatened by the state’s action. Under New Jersey law, the holder of a liquor license that is revoked must relinquish any others it controls for two years.

Liquor sales are a crucial revenue source for many golf clubs, said Jay Karen, the chief executive of the National Golf Course Owners Association.

“Golf is a combination of sport and leisure,” Karen said. “And alcohol finds itself at the crossroads of that.”

“Just the golf itself is not a high-profit-margin business,” he added. That, he said, means alcohol sales become “pretty important to the whole operation from a profit standpoint.”

Though he did not refer specifically to the Colts Neck club, which bills itself as a premier destination for weddings and other events, Karen said that clubs like it could be hit especially hard by the loss of a liquor license.

A notice of charges attached to Grewal’s letter says the action was prompted by two infractions committed by the club on Aug. 30, 2015: serving liquor other than beer from carts out on the course — in violation of the club’s license — and by serving liquor to the man, Andrew Halder, who already appeared to be intoxicated.

The two infractions together might typically result in a 25-day suspension of the club’s license, says the notice, from the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

“However, due to the aggravating circumstances in this case, the division will seek revocation of the license based upon the total circumstances,” the notice says. It does not elaborate on those circumstances, and a spokeswoman for Grewal declined further comment.

Shortly after leaving “a local golf club” on that date, Halder, of Woodcliff Lake, NewJersey, flipped his car on a highway ramp several miles from the Trump club, according to local news reports.

The car rolled over, and Halder’s father, Gary, a passenger, was tossed out. The elder Halder later died at a hospital, news reports said.

Law enforcement authorities said at the time that Halder’s blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit when the accident happened, according to news reports. He was charged with vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated.

Halder pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in January 2018, according to a court document. He was sentenced to three years’ probation in April 2018. Mitchell Ansell, the lawyer who represented him at the sentencing, did not return a call seeking comment.

Trump bought the Colts Neck club, previously known as Shadow Isles, in 2008 for a reported $28 million. According to his most recent financial disclosure, he took out a mortgage from Amboy Bank, which is based in Old Bridge, New Jersey, that he is still paying off.

Trump’s latest financial disclosure shows that the club had about $6.76 million in revenue last year, about 5% less than it took in the previous year.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

© 2019 The New York Times Company

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