6 Billerica Liquor Stores Suspended for Selling to Minors
BILLERICA -- Selectmen ordered suspensions for six package stores that sold alcohol to teens during a “sting” operation, according to the Billerica Police Department.
“We only have 11 package stores,” said Deputy Chief Roy Frost.
He said most rounds of compliance checks conducted by the department result in one or no violations -- not six.
“It’s unusual,” he said.
Five of the businesses -- Lincoln Liquors, Jim’s Quick Stop, Billerica Liquors, Georgios Liquors and 129 Liquors -- were issued a five-day suspension by the Board of Selectmen at a meeting Monday night.
As recommended by Police Chief Daniel Rosa, each store will serve two days suspension with three days held for a year pending another violation. The businesses are also required to fund six months of compliance monitoring.
Turnpike Market, which also received a liquor license violation in September 2014, was suspended for eight days with four days served and the remaining held in abeyance for a year. Selectmen ordered one year of compliance monitoring.
According to police, employees at the stores did not ask undercover teens for identification before selling the individuals six-packs of Bud Light on Aug. 2.
Chief Rosa said the two teens working with the department were 18 and 19-years-old.
Managers for each of the stores attended the meeting. In-person or through legal counsel, each admitted to the violation, apologized and described the changes they were making in response.
“I find it somewhat refreshing that each of the owners is contrite and regrets what happened,” said Selectman Ed Giroux. “I don’t think anyone did it on purpose.”
Giroux and other selectmen emphasized the severity of the violations.
“This is a best-case scenario,” said Selectman Michael Rosa. “Worst case is someone gets hurt or killed or injured. There’s a lot of responsibility having your name on a liquor license.”
In addition to the liquor license violations, Frost said the department is criminally charging the clerks with sale of alcohol to a minor in Lowell District Court. The misdemeanor charge can carry an up to $2,000 fine or up to a year in prison.
Frost said he is unsure why the number of violations was higher than average in this check, though said owners can struggle to finding reliable cashiers and clerks.
“They’re not paid a lot of money,” he said.
Though six violations in one check is “abnormal,” it has happened in the past, according to Frost.
He said ongoing checks of businesses with on-premise consumption has not resulted in any violations in recent months.
Suspensions were scheduled on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Selectman Andrew Deslaurier confirmed with police the suspensions would be spread out “so we don’t have the entirety of Boston Road closed.”
Suspensions were scheduled as follows:
* Lincoln Liquors, 480 Boston Road, Oct. 8 and 16
* Jim’s Quick Stop, 502A Boston Road, Oct. 9 and Oct. 15
* Turnpike Market, 509 Middlesex Turnpike, Oct. 1, 9, 15 and 23.
* Billerica Liquors, 25 Boston Road, Oct. 22 and 30
* Georgios Liquors, 480 Boston Road, Oct. 8 and 16
* 129 Liquors, 252 Salem Road, Nov. 5 and Nov. 13
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