HALIFAX — Selectmen, who act as the town’s licensing authority, voted to allow the Halifax Gold & Silver Coin Shop to continue to do business at 272 Plymouth St. until the business’s license expires on April 30, as long as there are no more complaints or infractions.
The business must cooperate with police and use a system of getting the identifications of all people selling goods to the shop and getting color photos of all goods sold. It must also comply with zoning regulations governing the display of a sandwich sign in front of the shop.
Selectmen on Wednesday Jan. 28 voted, 2-1, to warn the Halifax Gold & Silver Coin Shop after a disciplinary hearing.
Selectmen Troy Garron and Michael Schleiff voted for the measure. Selectman Kim Roy voted against it, and said she favored terminating the business’s license.
Police Chief Edward Broderick said a couple of incidents led up to the need for a hearing.
Broderick said Officer Robert McDonnell checks with the shop every week.
Police speak with shop owner Matthew Chiaramonte, and most of the time, it’s great. However, every few weeks, there seems to be a lapse in the shop’s operations. Every couple of months, there needs to be a reminder to do something, usually different things. For instance, the last few times, the photographs have not been color photographs, Broderick said.
“It’s been a challenge, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s little things like that that we have to keep doing on a constant basis.”
On Dec. 11, McDonnell said Police Sgt. Patrick Sterling said there was a call reporting a break-in and jewelry stolen from a house. Sterling gave McDonnell a list of the stolen items, and the names of people who might try to sell them. McDonnell spoke with a female worker at the Halifax Gold & Silver Coin Shop, who indicated she had not seen the items. Two hours later, Sterling met him at the shop, and the items were there. The woman was not there, but Chiaramonte was there, and he indicated that the shop did not log the sale of the items, which turned out to be stolen, because the person who sold them was a repeat customer.
Roy said Chiaramonte agreed to track people selling items and items sold and use a specific program to do so.
There are a lot of break-ins because of the drug problem, people who steal items and sell them for drug money, she said.
“It’s been not a great partnership between the town and you,” she said.
A police detective from Rockland developed the tracking system that selectmen require the coin shop to use, Roy said.
“It’s been an excellent program, a good program,” she said. “I value businesses that follow the rules. You’re not following the rules.”
Chiaramonte said he has run his business for three years, six days a week, and this was the first time there has been a problem and what happened was a malfunction or breakdown.
“I’ve returned numerous things to this police department numerous times,” he said. “Numerous times, citizens have gotten their stolen items back because of our shop.”
Schleiff said Chiaramonte should have come to selectmen to discuss his options if there was a problem with the program.
“You can see something is off in this case here. Something’s not right at all,” he said.
Garron said that if he was still a cop, he would have charged Chiaramonte with receiving stolen property.
“You’re belligerent. You don’t really care,” he said.
Chiaramonte said a woman came into the shop asking if a guy had brought in the items, and he returned the items.
“I have him,” he said. “The jewelry was returned to the crying lady in my shop.”
Chiaramonte said he found the way police and selectmen were portraying him to be really aggravating and that 98-percent to 99-percent of Halifax citizens would not believe the way the Halifax Gold & Silver Coin Shop is being treated.
“It makes me look like a crook,” he said. “This is terrible, terrible, the way it makes me look.”
Schleiff said there are some things Chiaramonte should expect being in the business that he is in.
“You’re in a tough business. It’s scrutinized. It’s frowned upon. It’s not an easy business,” he said. “I think the license expiring is a better way to see how this thing ends one way or the other.”
Zoning Enforcement Officer Thomas Millias said Chiaramonte keeps putting a sandwich sign in front of the shop despite telling him to put the sign away.
The commissioner has fined the shop owner, who has not paid the fines, Millias said.
“We’ve had several heated discussions over the last several years over signage,” he said.
Chiaramonte said he is busy trying to run a good business.
“It’s a depression. I’ve got four kids to feed, and you’re worried about a sign?” he said.