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State closes liquor cabinet at Farmer's Cabinet

The co-owner of the trendy Center City restaurant faces fraud charges after forging a liquor license.

AN UPSCALE Center City restaurant known for its hefty beer list is now barred by law from selling those brews.

Pennsylvania State Police said yesterday that the liquor cabinet at The Farmer's Cabinet, on Walnut Street near 11th, was closed after investigators found the restaurant had been selling alcohol without a license since October.

Matt Swartz, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Colleen, was arrested Wednesday after admitting to forging a temporary license used to justify its operations to investigators from the state's Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.

Swartz, in a written statement, told police that he instructed the restaurant's staff to show the forged documents to investigators when they visited the Cabinet Dec. 12.

Those investigators sent the document, a temporary-license extension, to the state's Liquor Control Board, which supposedly issued it. The board determined it was a forgery. Swartz simply changed the date on a previously valid extension from 2012, and tried to pass it off as a new document, according to news reports.

When investigators returned Wednesday and were able to order alcohol from the Cabinet, Swartz was arrested.

Investigators seized $602 and 832 bottles of alcohol from the restaurant, according to the arrest report.

Swartz was charged with forgery and sales of alcohol without a license. He remained in police custody last night awaiting arraignment, state police said.

Swartz told police in his statement that he forged the document because the restaurant was in tough financial times and needed money to pay its taxes.

An employee at the restaurant last night confirmed that it was still open for business, but has switched to a BYOB format "at least through the weekend."

A message left last night at the Swartzes' home in Coopersburg, Lehigh County, was not returned.

This is not the first time Swartz has had trouble with the law. State court records show at least three other cases in which he was forced to pay out accrued debts. He spent six months in federal prison in 2007 after pleading guilty to wire fraud, according to federal records.