Hearing doesn’t end in favor of Ribitz: Store was one of 10 stores cited for selling alcohol to minors – LaGrange Daily News
Troup County Council of Commissioners voted to revoke the liquor license of Ribitz Bait and Tackle, one of 10 companies that sold alcohol to underage customers following an undercover operation in September.
The board held a hearing for the company at its meeting on Tuesday, allowing Ribitz owner Neal Patel to make a statement before the county presents evidence against the company. After agreeing that a violation had taken place, Patel was assessed a reinstatement fee of $ 750 as well as a 30-day beer and liquor license suspension from October 25 to November 24.
At its October 5 meeting, the board approved the sending of liquor license revocation letters to the 10 companies. Each has since received an acknowledgment of the violation and all 10 companies, only Ribitz, have requested in writing to be heard in a separate hearing.
On September 23, investigators from the Narcotics Division of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office conducted an undercover operation targeting businesses suspected of selling alcohol to area minors. Investigators checked 19 locations in Troup County during the course of the investigation and found that 10 locations sold alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
Troy Anderson, the Troup County director of community development, led the hearing and asked the officers involved for their perspective on what happened during the sting.
Deputy Sheriff Kindre Scott, Deputy Sheriff Matt Boswell and Deputy Sheriff Nathan Taylor were the officers involved in the attack and testified about the incident. The undercover agent was a minor and sworn in by Taylor before the shot. The undercover officer’s driver’s license, showing the date of birth October 3, 2000, was presented as evidence to council, making the undercover officer 20 years and 11 months. The officer was used in all 19 stops the sheriff’s office participated in as part of the operation. Nine of the 19 stores used proper verification ID with the license and did not sell alcohol to the officer, Anderson said.
Scott acted as the case officer for the Ribitz undercover operation. He said the undercover agent he sent was equipped with audio equipment to document the operation. The exchange between the undercover agent and the clerk was also videotaped.
Inside Ribitz, the officer purchased a 16oz natural light from the clerk, despite a dispute over the identity of his driver.
“The undercover agent said the clerk requested his license, which he provided,” Scott said. “The clerk then said he would have to change his license soon as it said he was under 21.”
Officers returned to the store soon after to alert the clerk that she had sold alcohol to a minor and handed her a citation, Scott said. When asked why she sold alcohol, the clerk replied that she had made a mistake, Scott said.
During the hearing, Patel claimed that the clerk who sold undercover alcohol to young people was innocent in terms of the request for identification.
“The clerk at my store asked for the ID of the young infiltrator,” he said. “[The youth] was six feet tall and looked like she was 25 but asked for ID anyway.
He said she compared the ID to the sign on the store counter that indicates the legal age at which a customer can purchase alcoholic products.
âShe checked that the date 2000 was correct, she checked that the day was correct, she missed the month from October to September,â Patel said. “I’m not denying that the sale took place, but she asked for the ID.”
In addition to the current violation, Patel was also convicted of selling alcohol to a minor in 2018. Patel has maintained a beer and wine license consistently since 2008, Anderson said.
Beer and wine licenses are updated annually, Anderson said, and although they are not required to review the ordinance, license applicants initially receive a copy of Section 6 of the city map. county indicating the rights and regulations for the sale of alcohol.
âThe renewal process only verifies US citizenship, no issues breaking the law and number of employees,â Anderson said.
Other places where clerks have received citations are:
- Hamilton Food Market – 2876 Hamilton Road
- Super G – 2744 Hamilton Road
- Shell Store – 4630 Hamilton Road
- Marathon store – Chemin Rosemont
- Shell Store – 2860 Upper Big Springs Road
- Valero – 1231 Bartley Road
- Marathon – 2750 Roanoke Road
- West Point Trading Post – 3400 West Point Road
- West Point Grocery Store and Lottery – 7755 West Point Road
None of the other store owners requested a hearing.