A Jessup liquor store that has served customers for 32 years is in danger of losing its liquor license for allegedly serving an under-aged police cadet twice in the past two months.
The Howard County Police Department is filing a petition to have the liquor board suspend or revoke 999 Tavern's liquor license.
The family-owned bar and carryout in the 7700 block of Washington Blvd. was one of seven stores in Howard County caught in the past month selling alcohol to patrons under 21 without asking for identification, police said.
In the latest check, nine stores were visited.
In one check that began on July 30, three of five businesses sold alcohol to a 19-year-old cadet. On Friday, the most recent check by police, all four businesses investigated -- including 999 Tavern -- served the minor.
The tavern was given a warning on July 1 during an earlier checking period, when it served a minor, police said.
Under Police Department policy, first time offenders receive a warning. But the department files a petition against any business that sells to an underaged person more than once within a year.
In a typical case, a cadet in plain clothes is sent into a store. An adult officer, also in normal attire, follows the cadet and notifies the store manager when an illegal transaction has been made.
Stan Nasiatka, manager of 999 Tavern, said it's difficult to spot every under-age customer because those who want alcohol often use deceptive tactics. He said the 19-year-old cadet, who was sold a six-pack of beer by his cashier, looked around 23 years old.
"It's a big battle between us and the kids," Mr. Nasiatka said. "We don't make it a practice of selling to
minors. It was just carelessness by one of our workers."
But Sgt. Gary Gardner, a police spokesman, said liquor store workers should check the identification of almost every young person as a matter of policy.
"There are high school students who look older than they really are, but their appearance shouldn't make it easier," he said.
The six other businesses cited in the department's latest round of checks were: Dorsey's Search Wine and Spirits in Ellicott City; Friendship Liquors in West Friendship; the Cooksville Carry-Out; Spittel's Park in Jessup and Skylight Liquors and Dougal's Liquors, both in Elkridge.
Police said additional checks are planned for the rest of the year.