Stores busted for underage alcohol sales
EAGLE COUNTY ” Three Eagle County store clerks got pinched Aug. 3 for selling alcohol to minors during a countywide sting by local law enforcement agencies, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office reported.
“They didn’t card the person,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Mike McWilliam. “They just sold it to them.”
The responsible employees at Pier 13 Liquor in Eagle-Vail and City Market and Loaf ‘N Jug in Eagle received summonses for selling alcohol to an underage person, McWilliam said. The violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
McWilliam said he didn’t know whether the businesses have received prior complaints.
Representatives at the three businesses could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but McWilliam said employees in this situation often get fired.
The Sheriff’s Office performs alcohol stings once or twice a year. The operations are deemed effective because penalties from the liquor license authority can be severe. Often, they lead to businesses taking action, such as employee training, to curb sales to minors.
This year, the Sheriff’s Office and Avon police recruited two young-looking teenage women to attempt purchasing alcohol at 24 businesses from Eagle-Vail to Gypsum, McWilliam said.
“We deliberately get people who look young,” McWilliam said. “We want people to card them.”
If the women were asked how old they were, they admitted their age, McWilliam said.
“We’re not trying to do anything sneaky and get them to sell,” McWilliam said.
The women’s conversations were taped with a hidden recorder while a detective watched them. When the women succeeded, they brought the alcohol outside to deputies, who dumped out the liquid, McWilliam said.
A uniformed officer then issued a summons to the employees who made the sale.
The consequences for selling to a minor go beyond the individuals responsible.
“They (the business owners or licensees) have to go before a liquor license authority and say why they’re selling to kids under the age of 21 and explain what they’re going to do to correct the problem,” McWilliam said.
The Eagle Town Council serves as the town’s liquor authority. The authority reviews whether an infraction should result in disciplinary action against the licensee, then holds a public hearing before making any decision, Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell said.
Punishment includes a fine and suspension or revocation of licensees. Whether an Eagle hearing is imminent is unknown.
“We’re going to have to see the evidence first,” Powell said.
Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.