A former South Burlington bar owner, who investigators said stole proceeds from break-open charity tickets at his establishment, is headed to court for embezzling $168,181, according to the the Vermont Liquor Control Department.
Nicholas Bermudez, 32, of Milton, operated the former Sugarhouse Bar & Grill on Queen City Park Road near Shelburne Road. Bermudez is due in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Feb. 13 for the felony embezzlement charge, Liquor Control Department officials said.
Liquor Control maintains that Bermudez pocketed proceeds from charity tickets that were expected to go to the Burlington Amateur Hockey Association and Jones Music Media.
Bermudez claims that he was selling break-open tickets on behalf of the two nonprofit groups and he paid them $6,510 over 16 months as the profits, the department said.
Under Vermont law, all profits from the sale of break-open tickets are required to go to charitable or fraternal organizations.
DLC investigators began a criminal investigation following an anonymous compliant into Bermudez’s activities, liquor control said in a news release. Investigators determined there was a diversion of break-open ticket funds as well as other state liquor violations.
Bermudez operated the bar for about 18 months, but it was closed in June 2017 by the Vermont Tax Department for failure to stay current with the rooms and meals taxes, officials said. It was located in the former site of the longtime bar Franny O’s.
The proper monitoring of the sale of break-open tickets has been an issue for several years. Based on concerns from the department, the Legislature in 2017 tightened laws covering this form of gambling, which often takes place in bars licensed by the state.