John P. O'Brien

John P. O’Brien

Ohio Division of Liquor Control held a hearing March 26 to hear Brookfield Township’s and Trumbull County’s objections to a request for a liquor license by John P. O’Brien, who has said he wants to open a banquet and event center at the former St. Bernadette’s Church in Masury.

Brookfield Police Sgt. Aaron Kasiewicz and Chief Dan Faustino detailed the events that led to O’Brien pleading guilty to misdemeanor counts of assault and disorderly conduct in two domestic incidents in 2021. O’Brien admitted hitting a woman, shoving her to the ground and then hitting her once she was on the ground, Kasiewicz said of the first incident. A video the woman recorded at the time showed O’Brien holding a can of beer, Kasiewicz said.

Faustino testified that the same victim reported a second incident in which O’Brien hit the woman and threw pipes at her.

Kasiewicz also testified that the department received a complaint in 2022 that O’Brien’s son had posted a Snapchat video with a message that $3 drafts were being sold at Ferrara’s at the Abbey, the pizza shop located in the basement of the church. Kasiewicz said he referred the information to the Ohio Investigative Unit and did not hear back from the OIU.

Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Jason Toth also had Faustino discuss the warranty deed between the Diocese of Youngstown and O’Brien for the sale of the church. The deed lists restrictions that the property will not be used as a bar, tavern, dance club, nightclub or restaurant that serves alcohol.

Faustino argued that the issuing of a liquor license to O’Brien is not in the best interest of the township.

Toth argued that the criminal convictions are a sufficient basis to deny the issue of a liquor permit.

O’Brien did not appear at the hearing, which was held via Zoom, but his attorney, Dave Raber, argued O’Brien has paid his debt to society by successfully completing his sentence in the criminal cases and not subsequently being convicted of any more crimes.

He also said that the deed restrictions say nothing about a banquet center or that private parties renting the building for wedding receptions can’t bring their own alcohol. Raber argued that the township and county have no authority to enforce the deed restrictions, that being up to the diocese.

The hearing officer in the case has 30 days to file a report with the commission, a commission spokesman said.

O’Brien is asking for the liquor license through his company the Abbey at Locust Street Ltd., and the former church is owned by another of his companies, NVision Management LLC.

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