Liquor Dept. Suspends Tombstone Saloon’s License For Two Weeks


Doc Holliday’s Saloon, a popular watering hole on Tombstone’s historic Allen Street. [Photo by Terri Jo Neff]

The Arizona Liquor Board has denied a request from the owner of a popular saloon on Tombstone’s historic Allen Street to overturn a two-week license suspension and $12,000 civil penalty for four violations of the state’s liquor laws.

Noreen Carrafa and her company Doc Holliday’s Saloon LLC are the subject of the suspension and penalty order issued in September by John Cocca, the director the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control (DLLC). The order did not become effective until Carrafa had an opportunity to appear before the liquor board, which denied her appeal on Jan. 9.

Now, the order is on hold until mid-February to allow Carrafa time to petition for judicial review if she wishes.

Carrafa, whose husband Mike is a frequent critic of Tombstone’s mayor and city marshal, has held a liquor license for Doc Holliday’s Saloon since April 2012. Public records show she was disciplined by the DLLC eight times through February 2015 for common violations of state law and administrative rules, resulting in fines totaling $7,500.

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Then in July 2018, the DLLC’s investigation division issued a complaint alleging four violations by Carrafa as license-holder from October 2017 to March 2018. As a result of the complaint, the state took action to revoke Carrafa’s liquor license.

According to the complaint, two of the violations involved patrons who were shot after saloon staff allowed other patrons to bring firearms into the establishment in accordance with company protocols. Another violation involved a woman who suffered a concussion after being struck in the head when two men got into an altercation inside the saloon.

Carrafa contested the proposed revocation through the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings (AOAH) which serves as a forum for disputes with state agencies. Jenna Clark, an administrative law judge employed by AOAH, conducted a four-day hearing in Phoenix in June 2019.

Unlike criminal trials that have a beyond reasonable doubt standard of proof, the threshold of proof at Carrafa’s hearing was the “preponderance of the evidence” such that it “convinces the trier of fact that the contention is more probably true than not.”

Among those called to testify were current and former Doc Holliday’s employees, Tombstone Marshal Bob Randall, and Art Zacarias, the DLLC investigator assigned to document the alleged violations. Michael Raine, an assistant attorney general, represented the DLLC while attorney Joel Borowiec appeared on behalf of Carrafa, who did not testify.

On Sept. 5, 2019, Clark issued a recommended order in which she found DLLC proved all four violations. However, she suggested only a temporary suspension of the Doc Holliday’s Saloon liquor license until Carrafa paid $11,000 in civil penalties.

Later that month, Cocca used the authority as DLLC director to modify Clark’s recommendation. He issued a final decision which imposes a 14-consecutive-day suspension and $12,000 in penalties, with the suspension to remain in effect after two weeks until the penalties are paid in full.

Carrafa appealed Cocca’s decision to the state liquor board in October but her challenge was denied last week on a 4-0 vote. Under state law, she now has 35 days to file a petition with the Cochise County Superior Court where a judge can void, modify, or sustain the DLLC’s final order.

However, if Carrafa does not prevail in court she could be required to pay the state’s costs in upholding Cocca’s order.

Mike Carrafa was editor of the Tombstone Gazette and ran against Mayor Dusty Escapule in 2014 and 2018. According to Clark’s recommended order, Mike Carrafa contended the DLLC and Tombstone Marshal’s Office “conspired to cite his wife’s bar for violations that other bars perpetrated with impunity, as a means to retaliate against him.”