Seven County Stores Cited for Selling Booze to Teens

Where do Clarke County kids get booze? Apparently from the corner store, just like adults.

A sting operation targeting sale of alcohol to minors has verified what many local citizens have believed for a long time; teen access to alcohol sources in Clarke County are both plentiful and accessible. The two-week long undercover operation targeting local merchants throughout the county found that 50% were willing to provide underage buyers with alcohol.

“We concluded the investigation last night,” said Sergeant Travis M. Sumption of the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office. The Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the Berryville Police Department investigated complaints of businesses in the County and Town of Berryville selling alcohol to persons less than 21 years of age.

As a result of the investigation, Sumption said that seven people have been charged with violating Virginia State code 4.1-304, a class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor conviction can result in confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

Sumption said that the following people were charged in the sting operation:

Farman Ali of Berryville – 340 Quick Mart

Bettylou Fleck of Boyce – Food Lion

James Haile of Bluemont – Pine Grove Store

Clayton Cummings of Bluemont – J&J Corner Store

Barbara Mitchell of White Post – Handy Mart

Song Ko of Boyce – Shenandoah Mart

Jennifer Smallwood of Berryville – 7-11 at Route 7 and Kimble Road

Sumption said that the following stores refused to sell alcohol to the underage persons used in the sting operation:

7-11 at Route 7 and Triple J Road

7-11 at Double Tollgate

Sheetz

Jim’s Country Store

340 Cigarette Outlet

Red Apple Deli

Market Basket

Sumption said that the operation employed several underage teens from outside of Clarke County to make the alcohol buys over a two week period.

“The minors are paid to perform the purchases,” Sumption said. “Once a buy is completed the seller is given a written summons to appear in court.”

Sumption said that the alcohol sting was not in response to any specific incident but rather was based on complaints by citizens.

 

Comments

  1. Jane Doe says:

    We have all known for years now that these establishments were selling alcohol to minors. Particularly the 340 Quick Mart which sells alcohol and cigerettes to under age kids. And if kids have trouble buying their alcohol directly from these stores, their parents are more than happy to provide it for them. Just think [redacted] and [redacted]. Parents not only condone the behavior but they provide minors with the alcohol itself.

  2. Been looking for this since the sting earlier this year in Loudoun. Excellent police work. If these people are actually prosecuted, that will put a big dent in a major supply line for youth drinkers. It’s way to easy for any kid to buy beer in this county. Take down a clerk and he/she won’t do it again – nothing to gain by selling to minors. And it sends a message to the others. Need to keep this operation going periodically to keep this in check.
    Now where are they getting the fake IDs…

    • Bocephus says:

      Excellent police work? Where are the adults that provided alcohol in the Shirley case? Why are we trying to place blame elsewhere? Get a clue and stop ignoring the problem.

      • Naked Truth says:

        I don’t see where any blame for that case is pointed elsewhere. I see a problem with underage access that continues.

    • Just guessing here predicated on the dilligence of Chief White and Sherrif Roper:

      These types of crimes usually fall under the jurisdiction of the specialized branch of law enforcement of the Commonweallth’s ABC ( alcohol beverage control). and provide a stiff penalty for licensees-
      I.e. Suspension of sales for 20-35 days considering the severity.

      Again,. I think White and Roper refused to allow this investifation to be ” back-burnered” by the Commonwealth, and did what they had to do for our community with no additional resources. Kudos!

  3. Naked Truth says:

    We all know these clerks will get fined without jail-time. And that fine will not be the maximum. A better message would be to revoke the ABC liquor license. Enough playing around.

    • It doesn’t state here, but I am pretty sure the establishment gets fined also.

      • Naked Truth says:

        If the privilege to sell alcohol is taken away, that would be harsher than any fine. This would make them wake up.

  4. The [redacted] DIDN’T sell beer to minors? Heh, heh, that place must have changed since back in the day

    But I agree with Naked Truth. Take their liquor license for a year or so. See if that changes some attitudes

    • Sarge, I know EXACTLY of which place you speak, and it boggles my mind too!

      • It’s not too hard to figure out, especally with the “The” in front of it. 🙂

        The only place I ever found that was more notorious was the old Safeway. A friend of mine went in there one time (I was too chicken**** to do it) when we were around 16 and came out with a whole shopping cart full of beer.

        • They probably figured if he had big enough cajones to try to buy a shopping cart full, he could have it! Either that, or they just didn’t want to bother with putting back a whole shopping cart full of beer!

    • Just Sayin' says:

      This place was sold a couple of years ago. The new owners own several stores in Virginia & I’m sure they are more alert as to who they sell to.

  5. You know the best part about this? Names were given.
    All of the offending establishments should lose their ABC license for at least 6 months.

  6. Taking away the ABC license would be the height of folly. Unless of course it can be proven that the establishment itself is encouraging the practice of selling to minors (and nothing in the article suggests that). It would be cutting off the nose to spike the face.

    The crimes were committed by individuals, not the stores.

    • It is the onus on the store to train it’s employees to check ID’s. The employees should be fired and the store loses it’s ABC license for at least 6 months.

    • RasputinSays says:

      Boy you should be PR for the business owners. I guess the coal miners were responsible for mine safety in West Virginia? No it’s all training and procedures. An individual can choose not to follow that training but I believe in the absence of monitoring like this businesses tend to skimp on training which is costly to them as overhead.
      Hats off to the police, now we wait to see if ABC is serious too.

      • @Rasputin: By your thinking if one teacher messes up we should fire the whole department. Or insert the profession of your choice. That is bad policy. You are right in that it is about training. By wanting to punish the business you are assuming they have not done proper training. I claim to not know whether they have or not. Last I checked in this country it’s innocent until proven guilty. We do know the individuals who sold to minor are guilty (at least according to the article). So if we are willing to live by the Rule of Law (which I hope we both can agree on!), you can’t punish in the absence of a crime. I will leave it up to the ABC to investigate and do their thing.

        As I said in my first post, if the business is making it a policy to sell to minors, then yes surely prove it and yank their license. But in the cases listed in the article it’s individuals who should pay the penalty. Do you really think they will continue to be hired by stores if they have that conviction on their record?

        Make no mistake, I don’t condone underage drinking or support giving alcohol to minors. I have seen devastating results first hand.

        • RasputinSays says:

          No I’m afraid you have missed the point.

          The incident and blame could end at the employee if the employee were licensed to sell alcohol, but they are not. The business is licensed and is therefore responsible for all that the license entails. Selling alcohol in Virginia is a privilege and one that generates a substantial revenue stream for the businesses that choose to apply for a license. With that benefit comes responsibility. The fact is that all of the businesses caught in this sting will engage in a much more diligent training program after being caught than they had in place before, and that is why they should lose their license for a period of time. They grew complacent. While they don’t condone the action, they are responsible because they, as a business are responsible for the sales from that business and they must be held accountable.

          Nothing will purge complacency like the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue as a result of an ABC license suspension. .

        • Naked Truth says:

          It’s called liability. The business holds the license, not the employees. It is up to the business to train their ABC managers and hold them responsible. Have the license suspended. Let the business go after the bad employee for damages.

  7. RasputinSays says:

    The [redacted] owner has actually become quite the entrepreneur. He is one of the most pleasant and courteous business owners in town and has cultivated an outstanding selection of beers (for adults).

  8. jessica says:

    This won’t do anything to curb underage drinking. It was never hard to find an adult willing to buy alcohol when I was underage. Fingers can be pointed at the Shirley case or any other teenage death related to alcohol, but there are just as many of age alcoholics in the county, state, and country who don’t know how to drink responsibly. Prohibition didn’t work in the ’20s and it doesn’t work now.

  9. Commenter 1 says:

    I can assure you that Food Lion does not sell alcohol to minors. This article got their facts wrong, the sting on Betty Lou was tobacco not alcohol. They are two different substances and to include them in the same category is ignorant. I have denied more sales of alcohol than I can count. Thank you very much!

    CDN Editor: According to the Clarke County Sheriff Office the Food Lion incident was related violating Virginia State code 4.1-304, a class 1 misdemeanor, which reads:

    Virginia Code § 4.1-304. Persons to whom alcoholic beverages may not be sold; penalties.

    No person shall, except pursuant to subdivisions 1 through 5 of § 4.1-200, sell any alcoholic beverages to any person when at the time of such sale he knows or has reason to believe that the person to whom the sale is made is (i) less than twenty-one years of age, (ii) interdicted, or (iii) intoxicated.

    Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    • Commenter 1 says:

      As an additional note, the town police did this without permission from ABC.

      • greenhouse supporter says:

        And……..?

      • I wouldn’t have asked ABC for permission to enforce the law if I were the police dept either!! If ABC won’t do their part at least local police are willing to do it themselves. And clearly the police dept proved the point that a problem exists!

    • Commenter 1 says:

      CDN Editor,

      When they did the sting at Food Lion, the minor attempted to purchase tobacco, not alcohol. To say Food Lion sells “alcohol” to minors would be incorrect in this instance. I’m sure if they encouraged the minor to attempt to buy tobacco vs alcohol at the other locations there would be different results because of the way society puts an emphasis on underage drinking, not underage smoking.

  10. [redacted] DOES sell alcohol to minors. I worked there for 3 years in highschool and saw MANY (if not all) of the “FEAST” aka “office girls” sell alcohol to minors they knew personally. This sting will do nothing to curb underage drinking or the sale of alcohol to minors. A noble attempt, but a futile one.

    • Commenter 1 says:

      Times have changed. You should stop in to Food Lion sometime, and see that the office staff has changed from whatever your picture of it may have been. You must have been in high school sometime ago. We are talking about the Berryville Food Lion here, none of the ones in Winchester. Again I will re-iterate that the minor did not attempt to purchase ALCOHOL from [redacted]. Therefore, it was NOT an alcohol sting. Food Lion should not even be mentioned in this article.

  11. CDN Editor says:

    With regard to the alcohol sting related to former Food Lion employee Betty Lou Fleck, an online review of Clarke County General District Court Case Number GC11001452-00 lists Ms. Fleck’s charge as “Charge: SELL ALCOHOL TO UNDERAGE PERSON”, Final Disposition of the case as “Guilty”.

    A fine of $50 was assessed for the crime.

    The Clarke County General District Court information can be accessed at http://epwsgdp1.courts.state.va.us/gdcourts/captchaVerification.do?landing=landing

    Specific case information can be accessed by entering the case number GC11001452-00

    • Commenter 1 says:

      That is something to note…that only a fine of 50 was assessed and she was not charged with the misdemeanor even though she was guilty. The town/county police did this without the permission of ABC, therefore they were technically in the wrong for holding these stings. As a result, the sentencing was left with only court costs because the town/county cops did the stings with out permission from ABC. Why wasn’t that mentioned in the article? If it was done properly, the minor would have tried to purchase alcohol, not cigarettes, from former employee Betty Lou Fleck and she would most likely have made a different decision based on the emphasis our society has on underage drinking versus underage smoking. It stands that Food Lion has been incorrectly judged as an establishment that sells alcohol to minors.

      CDN Editor: According to the Clarke County General District Court website, a fine of $50 was assessed. Court costs appear to have been added onto the fine. There is no requirement for local law enforcement to work with Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control to enforce laws or to obtain VABC’s permission to enforce the prevention of alcohol sales to minors. Watch CDN for additional information on this story soon.

  12. I was in HS 4 years ago and still live in town… considering that management changed hands 4 times in the 3 years I worked there, I don’t think it’s safe to say that has any effect on the fact that minors can purchase/steal/have someone else buy them beer there.

  13. Maybe it’s time to give it up Ms [redacted]

  14. livein22611 says:

    Why does it matter that the “ABC” was not involved? They sold alcohol to minors. Period. I really don’t give a hoot who busts them, as long as they do. Selling alcohol (and even cigarettes) to minors is about the dumbest thing a person can do. I do agree that the fine is a joke. There’s no consquence there. Let’s up that puppy to $5,000 and then we might see people think twice.

    • It doesn’t!!!!

      It’s just a way for someone to try and excuse the underage sale of alcohol by blaming the police dept. for violating some “rule” that doesn’t actually exist. I’m with you, who cares how it happened or who initated the sting…point is someone broke the law. Would the end result have been any different if ABC had been asked permission? No.

  15. Goodfella says:

    anon,

    Can you please tell us what “FEAST” stands for?…

  16. Goodfella says:

    As I was. I guess it’s an acronym for Food Education and Service Training.

  17. I've Seen It Happen says:

    I’ve seen the [redacted] at Food Lion sell alcohol to her under age employees. Glad to see Food Lion going down on this.