DABC Leader Asked If He Misled Commission

(KCPW News) Wednesday was not a good day to be the head of Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Director Dennis Kellen was grilled by lawmakers on a legislative committee, like Senator John Valentine, over DABC losing $300,000 by shipping liquor to an Eden, Utah package agency that went bankrupt.

Valentine: “Did the staff mislead the commission?”

Kellen: “The staff has never, never, in 37 years, misled the commission.”

Valentine: “Did the staff not tell the commission about the Eden problems?”

Kellen: “The staff did talk to commission members.”

That assurance wasn’t enough for Senator Valentine, who then noted that a year passed between an audit that uncovered a large shortage and the staff notifying the commission of the problem.

He later asked Kellen why the DABC continued to ship alcohol to the Eden store despite knowing of the shortage.

“What we were trying to do is keep the operator in business until he could secure financing and bring in a partner into his business,” responded Kellen.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Kellen now plans to step down after the DABC commission has selected his replacement. Senator Valentine says Sam Granato, who until recently was chairman of that commission, would be a good candidate to succeed him.