Area clerks busted for selling alcohol to minors
by Press-Banner
Mar 03, 2011 | 3104 views | 10 10 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Five Scotts Valley retail clerks were cited for selling alcohol to minors Friday, Feb. 25, after underage decoys working with the Scotts Valley Police Department ran a sting operation at 10 local shops.

The operation was funded by the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control and enlisted underage young people from outside the area to try — under an officer’s supervision — to buy alcoholic drinks from stores. Other decoys tried a shoulder-tap tactic to get an adult to buy drinks for them.

Minors were able to buy alcohol from clerks at Nob Hill Foods, both Shell stations in the city, the Union 76 station and Scotts Valley Gas and Mart.

According to Lt. John Hohmann, three of the five alcohol sales took place even after the decoys had shown identification that stated their correct underage date of birth.

The decoys, Hohmann said, were selected to appear obviously younger than age 21 — no piercings, no tattoos, no facial hair — and, if asked, were required to reveal their real age.

Citations, according to police, were issued to the individual clerks, not the businesses. Each carries a minimum fine of $1,000 and 24 hours of community service.

The shoulder-tap operation found no adults who would agree to buy alcohol for the decoys.

Hohmann praised Malone’s Grille, the Village Bottle Shop, 7-Eleven, QuikStop and the Valero station for carding and refusing to sell any alcohol to the decoys.

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SV SC Pizza
March 13, 2011
Scotts Valley police cited a clerk at Santa Cruz Pizza Company for selling alcohol to a minor participating in the department's decoy operation to reduce underage drinking.

The pizza clerk was caught selling alcohol to a minor on Saturday, police said.

The minor tried to buy booze from 13 retail outlets, police said.

Anyone caught selling alcohol to a minor faces a minimum fine of $250 and/or up to 32 hours of community service for a first violation.

In addition, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will take administrative action against the business, which could include a fine, suspension of its alcohol license or revocation of the license.
Good work
March 08, 2011
I have no problem with the sting operation; I think it was a good idea. Businesses shouldn't be selling alcohol to children. I also agree with a previous poster that the businesses should have been fined even if it was their first offense. Why were only the clerks fined? If the businesses were repeat offenders then tougher punishment would also be in order and then they should lose their license to sell alcohol at least temporarily. 3rd strike within 3 years and then they should lose their liqueur license permanently. I bet that would get their attention.
March 08, 2011
Is It possible that the city needs to reshuffle it's spending priorities? Move it to the schools. Who directed the sting operation? The Police Chief or the Council? If they are so right, let's see it in the open.
Fine the Businesses
March 08, 2011
The businesses are responsible for the training and behavior of their employees. As long as the businesses aren't fined we won't see much change in how they operate. The Scotts Valley Police Department should have cited the following businesses for selling alcohol to minors which despite what LadyLiberty thinks is in fact a real crime.

The following businesses should be fined and boycotted:

"Minors were able to buy alcohol from clerks at Nob Hill Foods, both Shell stations in the city, the Union 76 station and Scotts Valley Gas and Mart."

Recombine w County
March 08, 2011
Some see truth. separate SVPD over 60% of budget takes away from schools! Teachers educate. Will the middle school be replaced before my great grandchildren go there? Simply having dispatch done by county would fund new structures! No more Donnas!
March 08, 2011
First of all, "Which Businesses" asked why the Press Banner didn't publish the names of the offending clerks that sold the alcohol to minors. Well, "which Businesses", there's a little thing in this country called "innocent until proven guilty" that still apparently applies. The Press Banner remembers that pesky little clause. So until these folks who were set up are fined it's really none of your business, because you don't know the details, and they've not been found guilty of anything.

Secondly I find this sting operation to go after the "little" people to be exceedingly indicative of counties trying to make money off the people who are the least able to afford it, to increase revenue. It's disgusting that SV Police sent this operation to every single establishment that sells alcohol, rather than deal with a specific establishment that had complaints. To not hold the stores responsible, and to just go after low-paid, harried clerks is just mean spirited and cruel. It's letting the people who can barely afford it, raise money for the county on false pretenses. It's disgraceful and the Scotts Valley Police Department should be ashamed that they did this.

I heard in one incident that a person was cited for selling alcohol to someone who had an expired license that indicated he was 21,(and it was a valid ID, just expired) and I'm trying to figure out, what law was broken here?? Are clerks supposed to be DMV now too?

As Trolling commented, this is trolling to balance the budget. I'm going to be contacting the ACLU tomorrow because I think there's entrapment here, and it's to go after the "little" guy. I personally know someone who was cited for this, and the circumstances aren't fair in terms of how this person was cited. I won't say how because her case is still pending. Suffice it to say, this person never would have knowingly sold alcohol to a minor. Never. So rest assured, "which businesses" it's not an epidemic.

The problem here is not the clerks or even the businesses, it's the over-reach of the police department to entrap people. I would rather they spend their time going after real criminals, rather than spend our hard earned tax dollars trying to entrap hard working people to raise extra dollars for the county. And that's the ONLY reason they did this. Shame on you, SV Police. Go after real crime, not your neighbors. They serve you, and work very hard, for very little money, and rarely very little thanks!

You serve us, don't harass the people who work so hard. And especially, don't ruin the trust we had in you by setting up a sting operation. That was really nasty of you to harass clerks. APOLOGIZE!

To our hard-working clerks that were caught in a difficult position and may have made mistakes, or were genuinely convinced the ID's may have been real, it's not your job to identify false ID's or be police in your store. I know you were doing the best you could. You work long hours, and I know you never would have sold anything to someone and risk your jobs. It wouldn't make any sense. I appreciate the work you do at the stores in this town and know how hard it is. With all that is happening in this country against workers, this is just one more insult.

Disgusted in Scotts Valley
March 07, 2011
Trolling to balance the budget. Is it legal to only enforce during bad budget years. ACLU please.

Two wrongs don't make a right.
My mistake
March 04, 2011
Apparently my eyes did miss the paragraph that showed the offending businesses. My apologizes to the Press Banner.

I do how ever have a remaining concern that the Scotts Valley Police Department chose to only cite the clerks and not the offending businesses. The business owners are ultimately responsible for not making sure that their employees know and follow the laws regarding alcohol sales to minors.
Re read
March 04, 2011
You need to reread the article. If you do you will see that you missed a paragraph: "Minors were able to buy alcohol from clerks at Nob Hill Foods, both Shell stations in the city, the Union 76 and SV Gas and Mart."
Which businesses
March 04, 2011
Why hasn't the Press Banner published the names of the establishments or even the names of the offending individuals who broke the law? Instead the Banner published the names of businesses that didn't break the law. It seems to me that the owners of the offending businesses are ultimately at fault for not making sure that their employees fully understand the law and that there is not excuse for breaking it. Is there a double standard at the Press Banner? In this very issue the editor of the Banner included the names and pictures of individuals who violated other laws in the City, why is the Banner not also publishing the names of offending businesses? Is there a double standard in the City? Why did the police department only cite the clerks and not the businesses? Where any of these businesses repeat offenders? As a parent I would like to know which businesses we should avoid.

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