EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 6, 2012

Teen points finger at store

Bradford Liquors gets one-year probation for selling to 17-year-old

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — Bradford Liquors was given a year’s probation for selling alcohol to a minor after the 17-year-old girl showed up at last night’s License Commission meeting to identify the clerk who she said sold her two six-packs of Twisted Tea drinks in October.

If the store is caught selling alcohol to another minor in the next 12 months, commissioners said they will suspend its liquor license for three days. If there are no further violations over the span, the matter will be dropped.

The teenage girl, who is from Groveland, attended the meeting at the request of police. She arrived at City Hall with her father and stepped into the meeting room only briefly to point out the female clerk and describe what she was wearing to officers.

On Oct. 12, the teen and another 20-year-old woman were arrested when two auxiliary police officers found them drinking in a parked car near 125 Millvale Road, according to a police report. After officers found two open bottles and the rest of the alcohol on the floor of the vehicle, the defendants were arrested, handcuffed and taken to the police station, the report said.

The 17-year-old told police she bought the alcohol at Bradford Liquors, 91 S. Main St., and that she had purchased liquor from the store twice before in the previous two months. The girl told police the store clerk did not ask to see her identification before selling her the liquor, police said. Officers noted the only identification on the girl when they arrested her was her legitimate driver’s license, which showed her to be 17.

The commission held an initial punishment hearing on the incident last month, but postponed the case to give police time to ask the teenage girl to come before the commission.

The store’s owner, Joseph Raphael, denied his workers sold alcohol to the girl at the first meeting and again last night. Raphael’s son, who said he was working the cash register on the night the girl allegedly purchased alcohol at the store, said the clerk accused of selling to the girl was working the lottery machine that night.

“It’s a bad accusation. It’s baseless,” he said.

Commissions said they believed the girl, however.

“If the young lady identified the woman who sold to her, that conclusive evidence for me,” Commission member Gerald Sewell said. “You’ve had no trouble in 10 years, but a slip can happen. If there are no more problems, this disappears.”

Raphael asked to question his accuser, but was denied.

“We’ re not going to allow her to be cross-examined,” Lt. Robert Pistone told commissioners, referring to the teen. “She’s here to do an ID, that’s it.”

Commissioners said they considered the store’s unblemished record in rendering a decision that basically amounts to a warning. Officials said they found no record of license violations of any kind for the business in its approximately 21 years in Bradford Square.

“Having your record and knowing that you care about your business, I’m sure you’ll take extra care to make sure this never happens again,” Commission member Tim Coco said.

According to a police report, Raphael was unable to provide officers with a copy of the liquor store’s security video recording that police said would have proven whether the minor girl bought the alcohol there on the date in question.

Police said Raphael told them the camera was not working that night because it was damaged in a prior flood inside the building. But officers said they examined the camera and area around it and found no evidence of water damage.

License Commission Joseph Edwards advised Raphael to make sure the camera is working in the future.