The owners of two Howard County liquor stores who violated numerous laws were fined $500 each and one was ordered to close for two days.
In the case of U.S. 1 Liquors, in the 8100 block of Washington Blvd. in Jessup, the county's Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board used an interpreter for the first time to help Jong Choe to understand the proceedings. Choe was in Korea during the first scheduled hearing Dec. 11.
Board members had harsh comments during a Jan. 8 hearing about how Choe's store was operated. Choe's liquor license was also suspended for two days, Feb. 15-16, in an order made public last week.
At Choe's store, county liquor inspector Detective Martin Johnson caught a 17-year-old buying a 30-pack of beer at the store Aug. 11 without showing any identification to Sue Choe, another licensee and the owner's daughter.
Johnson told the board during the Dec. 11 hearing that a county officer checked the store and found Sue E. Choe, the owner's wife, who had no training in alcohol sales, alone in the store.
"We don't want caretaker employees. That's unacceptable," said board member Harry Evans III.
"It seems to me you're more interested in making money than in following the rules," said board member William Neault.
"I try to be a law-abiding citizen. I am angry at myself that I allowed this to happen," Choe said through an interpreter. He said he now asks every customer for identification "even if they have gray hair."
In the other case, the operator of Whiskey Bottom Liquors, in the 9100 block of All Saints Road in North Laurel, admitted selling beer and whiskey to underage customers on three occasions, and to not having anyone trained in selling alcohol on the premises.
Walter Bosstick, the owner, apologized to the board members at the Jan. 8 hearing and said he is trying to sell his store. He was fined $500 for multiple infractions.
According to an agreed statement, Bosstick admitted selling a 30-pack of beer and a bottle of whiskey to a 19-year-old Nov. 3 after officer Mark Heron confronted the customer. On Nov. 16, two underage customers were caught by Heron after buying two 30-packs of beer. They also told Heron that no identification was requested.
The next day, a man behaving as though he was drunk was seen by police entering the store and buying more beer. He was later found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.28, more than three times the legal limit for driving.
"We got caught. I'm so sorry that happened," Bosstick told the board.
He said he's owned the store for seven years but lately was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease with dementia and has trouble remembering things when he gets tired.