The Rodeo Bar and Grill has been cited for having human growth hormone and syringes at the bar.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety s Ohio Investigative Unit has cited the bar with improper conduct for drug possession and improper conduct for drug paraphernalia possession, officials said Friday.
The items were found in the Oregon bar on Wednesday when authorities served a search warrant as part of the investigation into the fatal crash that occurred on Sunday in which a wrong-way driver on I-280 struck a minivan killing five members of a family heading home to Maryland.
When law enforcement agencies collaborate, we can do more for the good of the public, said Cathy Collins-Taylor, executive director of the investigative unit in a statement.
Part of the investigative unit s mission is to assist communities when state resources can add additional power and a unique investigative element to the case.
After a hearing before the Liquor Control Commission, a decision will be issued that can range from a dismissal of the case to a revocation of the license, according to the commission s Web site.
The Rodeo Bar and Grill remains open. No criminal charges have been filed as a result of the drugs being found in the bar. The Oregon police department continues its investigation.
Michael Gagnon, the man charged with five counts of aggravated vehicular assault for the crash, is believed to have been drinking at the bar before getting behind the wheel. He had a blood-alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit in Ohio at the time of the accident.
Killed in the crash were: Bethany Griffin, 36; Jordan Griffin, 10; Lacie Burkman, 7; Haley Burkman, 10, and Vadie Griffin, 8 weeks old.
Sydney Griffin, 8, remains in serious condition in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. Beau Burkman was released from the hospital on Monday, and his stepfather, Danny Griffin, who was driving the van, was released on Wednesday.
Officials came across the human growth hormone in a filing cabinet at the bar at 3150 Navarre Ave. Wednesday afternoon while looking for video, receipts, bar tabs, financial records, and employee records as part of their crash investigation.
Agents with the Ohio Department of Commerce s Division of Liquor Control, with the assistance of Oregon police, got what they sought: paperwork, including bar tabs and receipts; computer files, and a recording from the bar s surveillance system.
But they also took away two boxes containing Jintropin, a brand of human growth hormone, vials, and two syringes; a pill container with nine white-colored tablets of clenbuterol, a drug known to promote muscle growth similar to anabolic steroids; a glass bottle with dropper containing an unknown clear liquid; $15,703.82 in cash, and syringes.
This is not an uncommon thing to do a search warrant for one thing and then find something else, Oregon police Detective Sgt. Paul Magdich said.
They weren t looking for drugs, he said, but after finding them, investigators got a second warrant to confiscate what they found.
The bar was searched three days after a pickup driven the wrong way on I-280 by Mr. Gagnon collided with a minivan, killing five members of a family headed from the Detroit area to suburban Baltimore. Mr. Gagnon had a blood-alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit.
It s not illegal to possess human growth hormone if it s prescribed by a doctor, said Steve Robertson, special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
But it is a little odd, he said, to store such medicine in a drinking establishment.
If this is for legitimate use, why is it sitting in a bar? said Mr. Robertson, who specified the federal Drug Enforcement Administration had no involvement in the case.
According to the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, if human growth hormone is used for reasons other than the treatment of a disease or other recognized medical condition, the offense can be punishable by up to five years in prison.
It s unclear why the drugs were in the bar or who they belong to.
Oregon police Sergeant Magdich said it s very early in the investigation.
While Toledo police are focused on the crash and not necessarily what happened in the Oregon bar, it was an alcohol-related incident prompting the look into where Mr. Gag non drank beforehand.
It appears he and his family were having a holiday party at the Oregon bar where his cousin, Glen Murdzia, is an owner, according to the search warrants filed in Oregon Municipal Court.
Oregon police Officer Jeff Brown had information about where Mr. Gagnon was drinking that night because he spoke with Mr. Murdzia after hearing about the accident.
According to the search warrant, Officer Brown jokingly sent a text message to Mr. Murdzia telling him to be careful about bar patrons driving drunk. Mr. Murdzia replied to the officer that his cousin was missing.
While the warrant identifies Mr. Murdzia as a bar owner, only Michael Yousif and Jon Roumaya are listed on its liquor permit.
The officer and Mr. Murdzia spoke on the phone after Officer Brown started his shift at 11 p.m., and Mr. Murdzia told him that the suspect in the crash, Mr. Gagnon, was his cousin, according to the warrant.
He also told the officer that they noticed Mr. Gagnon and a pickup truck owned by his brother, Samuel Gagnon, were missing before the crash.
Mr. Yousif, Mr. Roumaya, and Mr. Murdzia could not be reached for comment regarding the bar search or the crash.
A woman who identified herself as a manager at the Rodeo Bar and Grill declined to comment.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety, which is receiving evidence taken during the search warrant, gets involved in investigations of alcohol-related crashes upon request, spokesman Lindsay Komlanc said.
Lt. Kevin Keel, commander of the Toledo Police Department traffic section, said he contacted the state agency because police have unsubstantiated information that there was a problem at the liquor establishment.
Although Ms. Komlanc would not say whether the bar was suspected of violating its liquor permit, she said continuing to knowingly serve or sell alcohol to an intoxicated person is illegal.
Over-serving is considered a third-degree misdemeanor if such a charge is filed against a bar employee, she said. If the bar itself is cited for over-serving, it is considered a violation of its liquor permit.
Ms. Komlanc declined to comment further.
The Rodeo Bar and Grill has had no liquor permit violations since March, when its permit was issued, said Matt Mullins, spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
Contact Meghan Gilbert at: email@example.com or 419-724-6134.
Theresa Gagnon, the older sister of Michael Gagnon, released this statement today on behalf of the Gagnon family:
To especially the Griffin and Burkman family, but to also all of the readers of this article:
As a writer who comes from a close and once happy family, we all would like to express our remorse and the absolute concern for the tragedy that has happened.
Everyone that reads this article knows that we all have been placed in opportunities of making sound decisions or have somehow failed the improper ones. A tragedy such as this one shows how fast life can change, or in all situations, turn around unexpectedly.
The sudden and devastating loss of such innocent lives, those that did not have the chance to make much of an impact upon those outside of the immediate family, is a loss of unbearable tolerance. And for this, we are all truly at a standstill to you how we feel right now.
The loss of these five people, who have been important assets in the lives of many, was something to us that is unimaginable. Although our thoughts and prayers will always be with our son and brother, please understand that my dearest sympathies, thoughts, and prayers, and undivided attention extends to all family members, friends, and individuals that have been touched by this tragic situation.
Our brother cannot apologize in person to everyone that has been affected, but we promise that we will do that for him. My mother, father and the rest of my family want you all to know that the Griffins and the Burkmans will always be in our continued prayers and thoughts.
I pray that God will be there to guide each and every one of us as the days bring about new challenges to overcome. May the words of my mouth and the meditation upon each of our hearts be acceptable in your sight.
Our prayers and thoughts,
The Gagnon Family