October 30, 2014

11 retailers cited for furnishing alcohol to minors during sting operation

By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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ARENAC COUNTY — An undercover sting operation has led to citations for 11 local retailers for serving alcohol to minors.

The undercover sting operation, conducted by the Arenac County Sheriff’s Department, using minor decoys on March 24, checked 27 stores and 10 bars in Arenac County.

According to undersheriff Donald McIntyre, four retailers never checked the identification of the undercover minor; four retailers looked at identification before selling alcohol to the minor. One retailer looked at the identification and stated, “I’ll let it go this time.” One retailer looked at the identification and stated, “Good enough for me.” One retailer looked at the identification and stated, “Close enough.”

Names of the stores and bars have not yet been released to the public.

McIntyre said that the indications and remarks made indicate that three clerks intentionally sold alcohol to minors, while eight clerks either became confused or did not pay attention to the identification.

“This is somewhat disturbing,” he said. “I really believed that (Arenac County) had been making progress based on the results of our last few stings, which were somewhat unproductive.”

Of the five stores cited, one is located in Sterling, one in Standish, one in Melita, one in Alger and one in AuGres. Of the bars cited, five are located in Standish while one is in AuGres. McIntyre said one Standish bar has now been cited for serving alcohol to a minor for a second time during a sting operation.

McIntyre said clerks who served the minors have received misdemeanor citations, while the businesses are subject to violations from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

He added that jail time is a possibility for the clerks.

McIntyre said the sheriff’s department performs an undercover sting around two times a year. The stings are funded by the Arenac Drug and Alcohol Containment Taskforce.

“The results from this sting are similar to results from when we first started performing stings five years ago,” he said. “During our last sting, no one was cited.”

McIntyre said that undercover decoy operations and compliance checks are necessary to help prevent the sales of alcohol to minors.

“Retailers in Arenac County had shown improvement when regular checks were taking place,” he said. “When retailers had not had compliance checks in a while, they seem to have been unconcerned about the actual sales to minors, but rather, the consequences of getting caught selling alcohol to minors.”

McIntyre said that the sheriff’s department would like to perform more compliance checks in the future.

ADACT Coordinator Lori Jacques said she was surprised by the results of the recent sting.

“Looking at some of the comments made by the clerks, I was very surprised,” she said. “We have not had a sting in awhile, but the number of businesses is so high.”

As part of a 5-year $600,000 federal grant, Jacques said that the ADACT can help pay for training for any business that wants their employees to be prepared if a minor attempts to purchase alcohol.

“With our grant we are able to do a countywide training service,” she said. “The service is called tips or tams training.”

Jacques said that the ADACT will cover the entire cost for the training. She added that training may cost around $50 per person.

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