Monday, April 15, 2024

DA’s office drops citizen-initiated warrant charges on Edward Teach owner, plea entered on ALE charges

As of Monday, March 4, the district attorney’s office has dismissed charges put forth by citizen-initiated warrants and Gary Sholar pled guilty to some ALE charges, taking an Alford plea on another. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON — A brewery owner once facing multiple charges from citizen-initiated warrants and the Alcohol Enforcement Agency has found some reprieve.

READ MORE: ALE charges brewery owner with criminal violations, also finds Edward Teach operated on expired permit

ALSO: Edward Teach owner charged with 2 counts each of assault on female, communicating threats from citizen-initiated warrants

Gary Sholar, owner of Edward Teach Brewery, was charged with misdemeanors, including two counts of assault on a female and two counts of communicating threats. They were filed in citizen-initiated warrants by Asia Norris and Paige Grant on Jan. 6, 2024. In North Carolina, citizens are allowed to take their claims and present evidence for a magistrate to decide whether a warrant should be served. 

Sholar voluntarily turned himself in on the warrants on Feb. 2.

As of Monday, March 4, the district attorney’s office has dismissed the charges put forth by both Norris and Grant. 

In addition, Sholar pleaded guilty on misdemeanor ALE charges, including failure to supervise, but took a plea for allowing disorderly conduct to take place at the brewery. 

His attorney, Thomas Varnum of Brooks Pierce, said the brewery’s permitting — which last month the ALE found expired in February 2023 — was back in good standing and reinstated February 26, 2024.

Sholar’s first appearance in court was scheduled for March 21, 2024. Edwin L. West, III of Brooks Pierce, also representing Sholar, confirmed the owner took care of the matter in the New Hanover County courthouse Monday.

“Today he pleaded guilty to failing to superintend a business for which an ABC permit has been issued and an Alford plea to being a permittee that allowed disorderly conduct on the premises, both of which are misdemeanors,” West wrote to PCD.

George Edward Coleman IV is listed as the prosecuting attorney for the DA who signed off on insufficient evidence for assault on a female and communicating threats charges listed on the citizen-initiated warrants.

“Gary never assaulted or threatened Asia Daye or Paige Grant,” West added. “He was prepared to prove his innocence at a trial if necessary. The dismissal of all of those charges is entirely appropriate — and consistent with what Gary has said all along.”

According to the dismissal notices obtained by Port City Daily, Coleman wrote as part of communicating threats charges that the defendant’s demand for the victims to “get the f**k out” of the brewery during a November incident did not withstand threatening behavior under N.C.G.S. 14-277.1, which outlines communicating threats.

“While distasteful, it is not a threat,” assistant to the DA Sam Dooies wrote to PCD in an email Monday.

The altercation among the parties took place at Edward Teach Brewery on Nov. 16, 2023. Grant was at the brewery, attending a performance of her musician friend, Norris. According to a viral post written by Norris’ mother, Madonna Nash, and charges filed since, both Norris and Grant claimed Sholar exhibited threatening and aggressive behaviors. 

Nash, who wasn’t at the brewery the night of the incident, said it included Sholar:

  • Being “visibly drunk off his ass, erratic, aggressive and terrorizing” 
  • Claiming he “touched inappropriately, disrespected, and terrorized a 20 year woman who was hired by and working for his establishment, making for a toxic and hostile work environment”
  • And saying he threw “chairs hitting his own patrons,” all while “drinking BEHIND the bar! Totally illegal!”

The brewery owner has denied the claims, admitting a dispute took place, with harsh words exchanged. Sholar said Nash, Grant and Norris’ accounts are exaggerated and denies drinking behind the bar and throwing chairs; though admits to drinking at the bar that night with friends.

Grant claimed in an investigation with the ALE that she positioned chairs between herself and Sholar in fear of physical assault. She stated Sholar began grabbing the chairs and “flinging” them aside during a spat, injuring her finger in the process. Sholar has denied this and said he put chairs between them in attempt to get away from Grant.

For assault on a female, Coleman noted under Grant’s case that she participated in a verbal altercation with Sholar. The attorney wrote in the dismissal notice there is “contested evidence as to whether Mr. Sholar threw barstools at Ms. Grant and whether one of those barstools made contact with her.”

Dooies told PCD Coleman made the decision to drop the assault on female charges after hours of interviews with potential witnesses, conversations with the complainants, and a review of case law. 

PCD asked Dooies when the DA’s investigation began and closed, what brought the issue to the DA’s attention, if the DA’s office considered the ALE’s violation report or interviewed ALE agent Jason Dzierzynski, who carried out the state agency’s investigation; this article will be updated upon response.

Dzierzynski opened an investigation into Sholar as the citizen-initiated warrants were filed in January. The ALE issued its own charges last month, including: 

  • Disorderly conduct on licensed premise (NCGS 18B-1005 (A)(2))
  • Assault on a female and communicating threats (NCGS 18B-1005 (A)(3)
  • Failure to supervise conduct on licensed premise (NCGS 18B-1005(B)

Monday, Sholar accepted and was found guilty of failure to supervise.

“Gary understands that as the owner of a brewery he is held to a higher standard than a regular patron while in his own establishment,” West wrote in a statement.

The state took a voluntary dismissal of assault on a female in Norris’ case, according to the DA’s office. The musician told the ALE that Sholar “hip checked” her and knocked her off balance during her performance at the brewery, according to previous PCD reporting. This exchange was the impetus of the argument among Sholar, Norris and Grant, the latter of whom stepped in to defend Norris. Sholar claims to have tapped Norris on the shoulder to get her attention, in an attempt to sing with her at the microphone.

The ALE incident report noted there was sufficient evidence for criminal charges against Sholar for assault on a female and communicating threats. It found Grant and Norris’ interviews “credible and consistent” with one another, while describing “inconsistencies” in interviews of ETB employees and a witness who provided affidavits in favor of Sholar’s testimony.

Coleman wrote in his notes to dismiss assault on a female, filed by Norris:

“Ms. Norris’ testimony, along with the testimony of other witnesses for the state would be contradicted by witnesses for the defense who perceived the interaction to be harmless and made in an effort to get Ms. Norris’ attention. After investigating potential witnesses, the state has concluded Mr. Sholar’s actions are sufficiently attributed to disorderly conduct under ALE charges.”

Sholar accepted an Alford plea for allowing disorderly conduct on the premises. Alford plea consist of a defendant accepting guilt without admitting wrongdoing. Usually, an Alford plea comes when the prosecution has enough evidence to hold a party accountable. 

District court judge Lindsey McKee placed Sholar on six months of probation, which may terminate early if conditions, such as not committing another crime, are satisfied. The judgment also states Sholar is to pay a $100 fine and spend 45 days in jail, but the latter is suspended as part of the plea deal.

As a requirement for the negotiation, Sholar will need to complete the ALE’s Responsible Sellers Course, a training program on alcohol sales and service laws in North Carolina.

Separate from the criminal charges, the ALE investigation also found Sholar in violation of North Carolina Administrative Code, including:

  • Intoxication by permittee prohibited (NCAC 15B .0209)
  • Disorderly conduct prohibited (14B NCAC 15B .0208)
  • Intoxicated persons (14B NCAC 15B .0204)

The Alcohol Beverage Commission receives violations from law enforcement partners and handles them in a negotiated settlement process. ABC staff work out an agreement with the permit holder and can include administrative penalties for violations such as a warning, fine, or permit suspension, depending on circumstances of the case. 

If the parties fail to reach a compromise, it moves to the Office of Administrative Hearings. PCD reached out to ABC to ask if there have been any developments in the Edward Teach code violations settlement and will update upon response.

According to the Brooks Pierce attorneys, the lawsuit against Nash for defamation and another against former ETB brewer Erik Van Peterson for product tampering will move forward, as pursued by Sholar.

“Gary looks forward to the full truth continuing to come out in court,” West wrote.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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