News

Stores cited after minors buy liquor

By GAYLE SARAN

Staff reporter

A sting operation conducted by agents from the Washington State Liquor Control Board netted several Southend businesses selling liquor to minors.

The compliance check by the enforcement and education division of the WSLCB employed a 17-year-old female and an 18-year-old male to work as investigators, attempting to buy alcoholic beverage from local stores and bars.

The islandwide investigation of 18 establishments was conducted Jan. 14. Eight were on South Whidbey.

A spokesman for the liquor control board said the Short Stop Mini Mart in Freeland was cited when a cashier sold alcohol to the 18-year-old male.

“The store itself has received a previous written warning from us for selling alcohol to minors and will also have its liquor license cited,” said Blair Smith, enforcement officer. “They are looking at either a five-day liquor license suspension or a $500 fine, their choice on a first time ticket.”

A cashier at the Foodmart in Clinton also sold alcohol to the 17-year- old female and will be cited criminally via summons for violating state code.

“The store itself has received a previous written warning from us for selling alcohol to minors and will also have its liquor license cited. They too are looking at either a five-day liquor license suspension or the $500 fine,” Smith said.

The Clinton Pizza Factory refused to sell alcohol to the underage operatives, but both the employees in the restaurant were underage, and the fact that they were left alone and unsupervised by an adult employee (over 21) is a violation of the state code.

Naomi's Self Serve and Grocery Store cashier sold alcohol to the 18- year-old male and will be cited criminally.

“The store itself has received a previous written warning from us for selling alcohol to minors in 2001,” Smith said. “They too are looking at a five-day liquor license suspension or the $500 fine.

All those selling to minors were contacted the night of the violation.

It is common practice for the liquor board to conduct stings using underage participants. To ensure the operatives are underage they are searched prior to the start of the operation for possession of their true Washington state driver’s licenses, which show they are underage.

The liquor control board works closely with local law enforcement as well.

“Compliance checks of bars and stores are a common practice for the sheriff’s office,” said Jan Smith, spokeswoman for the Island County Sheriff’s office.

“We often work in concert with the liquor control board to ensure bars are not overserving or serving or selling alcohol to minors,” she said. “This wasn’t the first sting on Whidbey Island and won’t be the last. Surveys of local businesses helps us to enforce overdrinking and underage drinking.”

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