Chapel Hill bar in triple-fatal crash facing stronger penalty from ABC Board

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Chapel Hill bar penalty
NC ABC Board orders staff to renegotiate stronger penalty for Chapel Hill bar La Residence

CHAPEL HILL (WTVD) -- A Chapel Hill bar has agreed to a stronger penalty for its connection to a fatal Orange County crash that claimed the lives of three people in July.

Last month, the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission ordered its staff to renegotiate a stronger penalty for LaResidence.

On Wednesday, the NC ABC Commission public affairs director confirmed to ABC11 that La Rez - as it's called - has agreed to have the business' ABC permits suspended for 50 days beginning December 18, 2015. The last 36 days of such suspension may be avoided upon the permittee's payment of a penalty of $5,000.00 on or before December 11, 2015.

The offer is not final until it is ratified by the commission at its meeting on Nov. 18.

Last month, La Rez had agreed to an "offer in compromise" set forth by the commission that would have ended with the business either paying a $5,000 penalty before Nov. 6, or have its ABC permits suspended for 50 days starting Nov. 13.

Search warrants released days after 20-year-old UNC student Chandler Kania hit a car head-on on Interstate 85 July 19 allege he bought and was served alcohol at La Rez and another Chapel Hill bar, He's Not Here, just before he got in his Jeep that night.

"I personally don't feel the penalty's been strong enough and I'd like the staff to go back and renegotiate a new offer in compromise," said Commissioner Green last month.

Agnes Stevens, spokesperson for the NC ABC Commission, told ABC11 at that time that it was not unusual for the commission to renegotiate offers in compromise, but usually it is to loosen the terms.

"It's more typical to have penalties adjusted down," she said.

The law limits penalties the ABC Commission can impose to a $5,000 fine and suspensions.

Should ABC staff and owners of La Rez not settle, the case could move to an administrative law judge to decide. Stevens did not offer a timetable, but said those proceedings would be open to the public should the case go to court.

The bar He's Not Here is also facing penalties from the ABC Commission.

Kania is currently out of jail on a $1 million bond. He's facing several charges including three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of felony death by motor vehicle, and one count of felony serious injury by motor vehicle. A 9-year-old girl survived the crash.

Chandler Kania in a booking photo.
image courtesy Orange County Sheriff's Office

If convicted on all charges, Kania faces 40 to 50 years in prison.

Chandler Kania appears in an Orange County Court Thursday, July 23, 2015.

Darlene McGee, 46, of Charlotte, her friend Felecia Harris, 49, of Charlotte, and Harris' granddaughter Jahnice Beard, 6, of Brooklyn, New York, were traveling back home when their vehicle collided with a Jeep driven by Kania, who is suspected of driving drunk. Kania was headed northbound on Interstate 85 in the southbound lane at Exit 163.

Darlene McGee, Felecia Harris and Jahnice Beard
images courtesy family

Harris' daughter, Jahnia King, 9, was also seriously hurt in the crash. She has since been released from the hospital.

PHOTOS: I-85 crash

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