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Sunderland store suspended for sale to minor

Prince Frederick, MD - A young clerk’s mistake back in late November will cost a Calvert County liquor store one day of business and places them under a microscope for the next year. On Thursday, Jan. 24 the Calvert County Liquor Board voted unanimously to impose a three-day suspension on Sunderland Wine and Spirits and hold two of the days in abeyance provided there are no further violations for one year. The store was also fined $100.

“He’s an excellent worker,” said license holder Pamela Brown, who admitted she was extremely angry when she learned the clerk had sold alcohol to a minor. Brown told the board that the clerk, who was present at the meeting, is being retrained on the register. He is also retaking the course for Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPs) and Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAMs) certification. Two weeks prior to the illegal transaction the clerk had taken a course to earn his certifications.

“He [employee] knew he messed up,” said Brown, who added her first notion was to fire the clerk. “I have been extremely hard on everybody at this store.”

Another manager, Diljaan Melhi, said a letter has been sent to all store employees that going forward that any further violations by staff will result in termination and a responsibility for paying any resulting fines.

The sale to a minor reportedly occurred Nov. 21 at approximately 5:30 p.m.
“The store doesn’t have a very good reputation,” said Liquor Board Chairman Robert Arscott, who acknowledged that many of Sunderland Wine and Spirit’s prior violations occurred under different management. “What bothers me is two weeks after he goes to (TIPs/TAMs) school he violates the law.”

Brown explained to the board that steps are being taken to make sure there are no repeat violations. Everyone who makes a purchase is now being asked to show their identification. The reserves sides of driver’s licenses are also being scanned to make sure the purchaser’s license has not been revoked.

“It’s a serious thing,” Liquor Board Member Jack Smack told the young clerk, explaining that an underage purchaser who has consumed alcohol is more likely to cause a serious motor vehicle crash.

Brown and Melhi were given an option as to what day they would be closed in order to fulfill the suspension. They chose Monday, Jan. 28. The holders will surrender their liquor license to county authorities for one day.

Sunderland Wine and Spirits was one of several businesses cited for liquor law violations during a sweep conducted last November. Their violation was to have been considered by the board during the December Liquor Board meeting. However, since the board didn’t have a quorum at the meeting’s starting time, they were given the opportunity to have the matter deferred. Given the option, Brown and Melhi decided to wait until January.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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