Keg N’ Bottle, the Isla Vista grocery store formerly known as Mac’s Market, is facing a 25-day suspension of its liquor license or a fine as high as $20,000 for selling alcohol to an underage buyer.
As part of a sting operation by the Isla Vista Foot Patrol and investigators from the California State Alcoholic Beverage Control Dept. (ABC) [[ok]], a 19-year-old male decoy entered Keg N’ Bottle around 7:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7, and successfully purchased a 40-ounce bottle of Miller Genuine Draft beer. According to the police report, the clerk acknowledged that the buyer was underage, but still allowed him to purchase the beverage.
The clerk who sold the beverage, Juan-Luis Bisuella Torres, received a citation for furnishing alcohol to a minor – a misdemeanor that can carry a fine a high as $3,076. Deputy Sandra Brown of the IVFP said that the district attorney’s office is presently looking into what disciplinary actions it should take against Keg N’ Bottle.
“Depending on what the charges were and how many there were, the [store] could face fines, have its license suspended or even revoked entirely,” Brown said.
This is Keg N’ Bottle’s second citation since the business changed ownership in September 2004. The first occurred Oct. 30, 2004. ABC District Supervisor Chris Albrecht said his organization is currently investigating that violation.
A representative from Keg N’ Bottle management declined to comment.
Businesses with a liquor license that incur one citation for selling alcohol to an underage buyer face either a 15-day suspension of their license or a fine between $750 and $3,000. The standard penalty for a second violation is a 25-day suspension of the business’ license or a fine between $2,500 and $20,000. California state law requires a business to sell its liquor license after incurring three violations during a 36-month period.
Albrecht said the exact penalty a business faces depends on the circumstances of the illegal sale and the judge’s ruling.
Brown said the sting operation was a partial success.
“We’re happy, but we would have been happier if we hadn’t had to cite anyone,” Brown said. “Success would definitely have meant not having any business allowing underage [people] to buy alcohol.”
IVFP officers and ABC investigators escorted the decoy, a non-resident who Brown said had never been to the area before, to 20 different businesses in and around Isla Vista. Keg N’ Bottle was the only one to incur a citation.
The previous night, officers took the same decoy on a shoulder tap sting, in which they had him ask strangers if they would buy him alcohol. Of the 40 strangers the decoy approached, only two purchased him alcohol.
“We were happy with the results of that, also. A lot of people told the decoy, ‘I wouldn’t do that around here if I were you,’ or, ‘They check for that kind of thing in this town and you can get busted,'” Brown said.