Liquor outlet fined $1,000 for illegal sale

Underage police intern was sold beer

2 on panel wanted harsher penalty

March 18, 2003|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

For the sixth time in the past two years, owners of a Howard County liquor outlet were fined for selling alcohol to an underage police intern - despite examining side-profile, "under 21" driver's licenses.

This time, a $1,000 fine was imposed on Vilim Chhay and Robert LaPreze for a six-pack of beer Chhay sold to an underage police intern Aug. 15 at Village Liquors in the 12200 block of Route 108, Clarksville.

Two members of the liquor board, which is made up of the five County Council members, wanted a harsher penalty - declaring the liquor license null and void because of an unusual administrative wrinkle. According to testimony presented at a Jan. 27 hearing, Chhay asked the undercover intern for a license, examined it, including the red lettering stating "under 21 alcohol restricted," and suggested she get a front-view adult license. He contends he had misread the birth year as 1981 instead of 1982. He was very apologetic, according to the written decision issued March 7.

Because the violation occurred while his application to become the new licensee was pending, two members believed the license should be declared void. Board rules say violations that occur while a license transfer is pending void the transfer.

Thomas M. Meachum, Chhay's attorney, argued that the board could not fine Chhay because he was not technically the licensee Aug. 15. The license transfer came through officially Sept. 11.

Members Allan H. Kittleman and Christopher J. Merdon agreed, but also thought the transfer was then invalid and wanted the board to say that Chhay's license was no good. Members David A. Rakes, Guy Guzzone and Ken Ulman agreed on the fine but left the license intact.

In the past two years, clerks at Waterloo Liquors, Columbia Liquors, Whiskey Bottom Liquors, Bun Penny Market and Boarman's Meat market all sold alcohol to underage buyers after examining their licenses.

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