Eric Hise, owner of the Bharmacy, 621 Main Street, says in his complaint filed Dec. 5 with the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court that Mayor Mark Williams “…dislikes the Plaintiff for the exercise of his free speech and disapproves of alcoholic consumption and has with malice implemented an official Village of Genoa policy to enter business establishments serving alcohol; and has specifically instructed his police to harass the Plaintiff and his customers by repeatedly visiting his establishment without warrant or legitimate complaint.”
In addition to Mayor Williams, the suit also names Police Chief Randy Hill, Officer Kevin Steinman, and the village as defendants.
The suit says Officer Steinman, despite being repeatedly asked to not enter the business without a warrant or receiving a reported complaint, has entered the establishment “..under the guise of searching for the same licenses over and over again.”
Officer Steinman has told Mr. Hise he was doing so on the orders of Chief Hill, according to the lawsuit, which contends the policy is being selectively enforced more at the Bharmacy than other businesses.
The suit also says village police officers park in front of the business “…for long periods of time without any just cause for the sole purpose of harassing the Plaintiff and driving off his business” and that many of the bar’s clientele have ceased patronizing it because of the police presence.
Mr. Hise is asking for a jury trial and seeks more than $25,000 for compensatory and economic damages as well as punitive damages, attorney fees, and court costs.
He opened the Bharmacy in June, 2005.
“The mayor just doesn’t like drinking even though it is licensed by the State of Ohio,” Mr. Hise said last week. He said many of his patrons don’t consume alcohol while others have designated drivers, adding the mayor’s policy “assumes the worst in people.”
E-mail messages left with Mayor Williams and Chief Hill for comment were not returned.
The case has been assigned to Judge Paul Moon.