2009-03-14 / News

Cap'n Woody's to open Saturday

By Scott Rawdon

COLUMBUS - Joseph P. Marasco, co-owner of Capt'n Woody's Pub & Grub, will change his plea to guilty March 23. A federal grand jury indicted Marasco, 42 of Pataskala, and co-owner Robert Fusner, 33 of Grove City, July 16, alleging that they conspired to traffic in illegal drugs and launder the proceeds of the crime, according to a US Department of Justice news release.

The indictment alleges that since 1997 Marasco, Fusner, and others conspired to distribute cocaine and marijuana in Central Ohio. The indictment also alleges the men and others conspired to launder the money from the drug proceeds through buying a boat, cars, Capt'n Woody's, and other transactions.

Fred Alverson, public affairs officer for the US Department of Justice Southern District of Ohio, said Tuesday that Marasco initially entered a plea of not guilty July 28, but decided to change his plea March 6. His hearing is set for March 23, 10 a.m. before Judge John D. Holschuh.

According to a US Department of Justice news release, Fusner pleaded guilty in United States District Court to one count of willfully filing a fraudulent 2001 federal income tax return with the IRS and to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. Fusner faces a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years, as well as a fine up to $2 million. Fusner remains on bond pending his sentencing, which has not been set.

According to public court record documents and testimony, beginning in early 1997 and continuing for a period of seven or eight years, Fusner located sources of marijuana that he and Marasco sold to friends and associates. Typically the marijuana would be brought into Central Ohio from out of state. One supplier was from Canada.

Fusner did not report the profits from the sale of marijuana on his federal income tax returns, nor did he pay federal income taxes on these profits. The IRS estimated for the three consecutive years of 2001 through 2003, Fusner failed to pay approximately $84,000 in federal income taxes.

Robert "Pedro" Mar, Capt'n Woody's general manager, was not implicated in any wrongdoing, and there was no implication that any drugs were ever sold from Capt'n Woody's premises.

Matt Mullins, public information officer for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, said he believes a liquor permit transfer to Buckeye Lake Tavern, LLC, under the control of Mar's father, Gee W. Mar, will happen soon. In the meantime, the Ohio Department of Taxation notified the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control that a review of the current permit hold- er's sales tax account concluded that Capt'n Woody's has no tax issues to stop the transfer.

The Division of Liquor Control renewed the liquor permit for Fusner and Marasco. Although it sounds unusual that a convicted felon and a soon-to-be convicted felon could hold a liquor license, Mullins said the permit must be renewed under the current holder's name before it can be transferred, and there is no Ohio law prohibiting a felon from holding a liquor permit. However, a felony conviction can be grounds for enying a permit. Capt'n Woody's is expected to open for the season Saturday.

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