An application by Prince George's County Council member Anthony J. Cicoria to own a Florida liquor store was rejected this week, but officials say his 78-year-old mother has bought the business and applied for a license to operate it.
The liquor officials say Cicoria, who had been running the West Palm Beach store under a temporary permit, was turned down in his request for a permanent license because of false statements he made in a licensing application. Cicoria, who is awaiting trial on tax evasion and theft charges in Maryland, signed sworn statements in Florida saying he had never been arrested or charged with a crime.
Capt. Deborah Gray, who heads the West Palm Beach office of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, said Cicoria's wife, Catherine, a part owner of the store, also was denied a liquor license under Florida's perjury statutes. Catherine Cicoria, who swore that she had never been charged with a crime, faces trial Oct. 1 on theft, perjury and tax evasion charges in Maryland.
The Cicorias were charged last year with misappropriating campaign funds and filing false campaign finance reports with state election officials. Their indictment alleges that they improperly converted about $60,000 in campaign funds for personal uses. The couple has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Gray said that Cicoria's mother, Mary, of Silver Spring, has bought her son's interest in the Four Corners Liquor Store and filed an application in her own name to operate it. Mary Cicoria also was a partner with her son in the original license application.
Mary Cicoria said in her new application that she paid her son $75,000 for his interest in the business, which has a total value of about $125,000.
Gray said that while the council member can not legally hold stock in the store, "there is nothing to prevent him from working there as a salaried employee."
Cicoria, a Democrat who is seeking reelection to his 2nd District council seat, did not return phone calls yesterday. Gray said Cicoria and his wife told liquor officials that they misread the questions on the license application forms.
"We didn't buy that explanation in the least little bit," Gray said.