EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 22, 2012

Bradford Liquors charged with sale to teen

License board considers cutting store's hours

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — Police and alcohol officials are investigating allegations that a Bradford Liquors store clerk sold two six-packs of Twisted Tea alcohol drinks to a teenage girl, who was later arrested for underage drinking.

Police arrested the 17-year-old Groveland girl and Danielle Gilbert, 20, of Beverly on Oct. 12, when two auxiliary 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 city’s License Commission held a punishment hearing last week to consider the allegations against the store, but postponed the case to give police time to ask the teenage girl and Gilbert to testify at the commission’s Dec. 6 meeting. The store faces penalties, including having its alcohol sales hours curtailed or suspended if it is found responsible for selling alcohol to the underage girl.

The store owner, Joseph Raphael, denied his workers sold alcohol to a minor.

“I don’t believe they bought at my store,” Raphael said. “I’m sure it didn’t happen. I’d like to see the girl and have a chance to confront my accuser.”

Raphael said this was the first time in his 21 years at the location that he has been accused of selling to a minor. City officials said they found no record of license violations of any kind for the business, located in Bradford’s busy Central Square.

“I pay good money for (the manager) to keep an eye on my store,” Raphael said. “She does a good job and cards everyone.”

Police said they found a clerk at the store who matched the description given to them by the minor girl as the employee who sold her the alcoholic drinks. Police also said Raphael was unable to provide them with a copy of the liquor store’s security video recording, which police said would likely prove 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. Police said they examined the camera and area around it, but found no evidence of water damage.

At the request of the commission, police said they would contact the teenage girl and Gilbert and ask them to attend the commission’s next meeting.