STORY BY COLE NORUM
Mark Graziano, Drake University graduate and co-owner of the cherished local establishment Peggy’s Tavern pleaded guilty this month to a federal charges of conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs and tax evasion.
His plea came after an April indictment on 18 federal charges, the culmination of a two-year investigation following an audit of Bauder’s that determined over 700,000 hydrocodone pain pills were unaccounted for.
“It was appropriate for Graziano to be indicted,” said Kristin Yun, a P4 pharmacy student.
Yun recognized the ongoing situation with Graziano and Bauder’s as a lapse in professionalism.
“Pharmacists should act with integrity in their professional relationships,” Yun said.
According to court records and police statements, Graziano had kept information regarding his illicit activities from his co-workers, including his mother and sister.
He sold pills out of the pharmacy’s back door, after ordering a surplus of pills from multiple wholesalers for what the grand jury indictment described as attempts “to create a supply of divertible controlled substances.”
Graziano’s lawyer negotiated with prosecutors to drop 16 of the 18 charges, which when totaled could have resulted in a sentence of more than 200 years in prison. Prosecutors, however, recommended 37 months in a low-security prison.
Graziano’s lawyer also worked out the groundwork for the transfer of Bauder’s ownership to Graziano’s sister, allowing the pharmacy to keep its state license.
However, there still remains the issue of one of Drake’s favorite watering holes, Peggy’s.
A July 28 City Council vote to deny Peggy’s bid for renewal of its liquor license spelled impending doom for the bar.
The council acted on the recommendation of the DM Police Department. Police say Peggy’s failed five of 13 compliance checks for underage drinking since 2009.
“Our stance on whether or not the permit should be allowed … hasn’t changed,” Des Moines Police Department spokesman Sgt. John Halifax said. “The issues … haven’t changed.”
The Drake neighborhood bar is still operating while an appeal to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division is still under consideration.
According to a Des Moines Register article, Graziano, who once denounced the allegations against him, may be looking to sell his control of Peggy’s.
Halifax emphasized that background checks would be performed on the new owners if Peggy’s were to come under different ownership.
The bar’s alcohol license would most likely be valid if Graziano transfers ownership.
“We’d have no issue with that,” Halifax said.