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Board of License Commissioners

March 23, 2004

The Honorable Board of License Commissioners met today with the following present: Roy W. Crow, Scott D. Livie, and William W. Pickrum, presiding.

Mauritz Stetson, Alcoholic Beverage Inspector, and Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, were also in attendance.


The Commissioners approved three, one day only, Class C Beer and Wine Licenses for Mainstay, Inc., for musical performances to take place at the Mainstay building in Rock Hall on the following dates: April 17 and 23, and May 8, 2004.

The Commissioners approved a three day only, Class C Beer License for the Maryland Waterman's Association's Rockfish Tournament, to take place at the Bulkhead on Bayside Avenue, Rock Hall Harbor, Rock Hall, on June 11, 12, 13, 2004.


An Administrative Hearing was held at 9:30 a.m. in the Commissioners' Hearing Room. John Krastel, President, JC's Liquors and Deli, Inc., licensee, and his wife, Sandy Krastel, and the following summoned witnesses were in attendance: Jenna Lynn Lusby, Mary Yerkie, Helen Meeks, and Sheila Lepter, all of whom, as well as Mr. Stetson, were sworn in by Ms. Hayman for giving testimony.

Ms. Hayman read into the record the hearing notice and probable cause for a sale of an alcoholic beverage by an employee of C-Town Liquors and Deli who was under the age of 21 years. This alleged violation is prohibited by Article 2B, Section 12-302(c) of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Mr. Stetson stated that he was first alerted to the alleged violation by a customer, Sheila Lepter, who, after having purchased a 6-pack of beer at C-Town Liquors, called Mr. Stetson to explain that she was reasonably sure that the sale of her purchase was conducted by a minor, and that she would be willing to testify about the same. Mr. Stetson reported that he then went to C-Town Liquors to interview Jenna Lynne Lusby, the alleged sale-clerk, asking her whether or not she actually conducted the transaction of the sale for Mrs. Lepter.

Mr. Stetson indicated that Ms. Lusby's response was that she did not remember, and that sometimes when the clerks at the store are busy, she helps out with the transactions. She further conveyed that she was instructed by the store-owners that she was not permitted to conduct the actual sale of alcohol.Mr. Stetson advised that it is his understanding that the intent of this particular alcoholic beverage law is to discourage peer pressure among minors in the sale of alcohol.

In response to Commissioner Livie's question, Mr. Stetson reported that the legal age for conducting the sale of alcohol is by State law, at least 21 years; however, provisions in some counties have additional restrictions, such as prohibiting a minor from packaging alcoholic beverages.

Mr. and Mrs. Krastel expressed their opinion that when Mrs. Lepter presented the 6-pack of beer at the counter for purchase, Jenna Lusby scanned the product and put it in a bag, and that a different employee actually took Mrs. Lepter's money. They further stated that their employees who are minors often help out with stocking and bagging alcoholic beverages; they indicated their opinion that their employee, Helen Meeks, who is over 21 years of age, completed the sale for Mrs. Lepter.

Mr. Stetson responded that the previous statements do not represent the information which he received during his interview with Ms. Lusby.

Sheila Lepter testified that on February 14, 2004, she went to C-Town Liquors, picked up some beer from the cooler, and saw Mary Yerkie and Jenna Lusby, two employees that are minors, behind the cash register counter. Mrs. Lepter testified further that Ms. Lusby transacted the entire purchase, and stated that she did not see Helen Meeks during the period of time of the purchase.

Jenna Lusby testified that in her opinion Mr. Stetson twisted her words around. She continued, stating that she only scanned and bagged the product and that she did not conduct the monetary transaction.

To Ms. Hayman's questioning, Ms. Lusby stated that she remembered a woman who came into the store on February 14th and came up to the counter to purchase beer. Ms. Lusby said that she waited for Helen Meeks to attend the cash register and conduct the transaction.

Helen Meeks testified that she was working at C-Town Liquors on February 14th in the back of the store, in the cooler, came to the cash register and completed the transaction after Ms. Lusby scanned and bagged the beer. Mrs. Meeks indicated that she remembered observing Mrs. Lepter and her transaction. She identified Mrs. Lepter in the Commissioners' Hearing Room as the customer who made said purchase.

Mrs. Meeks explained that because they were the only employees working in the store during the day of the alleged violation, she directed Ms. Lusby and Ms. Yerkie to request her assistance to conduct the monetary transactions.

In response to Commissioner Pickrum's question, Mr. Stetson affirmed that Helen Meeks and Sandy Krastel completed the Alcohol Awareness classes. Mary Yerkie's testimony was similar to that of Ms. Lusby and Mrs. Meeks.

To various questions posed by the Commissioners, Mr. Stetson stated that, upon notification of the alleged violation, he talked to no other employee except Jenna Lusby, explaining that Ms. Lusby's account of the Lepter purchase was the same account provided by Mrs. Lepter. He, therefore, did not see the need to question any other employee.

Mr. Stetson testified that he asked Ms. Lusby during the interview to identify the name of the legally certified person with whom she was working, to which Ms. Lusby responded that she believed the person to be Mrs. Meeks.

Commissioner Livie commented on discrepancies among the accounts.

To questions posed by Ms. Hayman and Commissioner Livie, Mr. Stetson responded that the lapse of time between the report of the alleged violation and Mr. Stetson's interview occurred between approximately 2:00 p.m. on February 14th and 11:30 a.m. on February 15th, and that he felt assured that if Helen Meeks was visibly present in the store, that Mrs. Lepter would have testified of the same.

Mr. Krastel stated that he and his wife, Sandy, would not jeopardize their alcoholic beverage license by allowing for any such incident as the alleged violation. He further stated that he and his wife felt certain that the alleged violation did not in fact occur.

The Commissioners recessed for deliberation at 10:15 a.m. for approximately 10 minutes, and upon their return, Commissioner Pickrum commended Mrs. Lepter for coming forward and testifying in this matter, and stated their finding and disposition as follows: that this violation pertained more to an administrative and procedural violation than that of the violation pertaining to the sale of alcoholic beverage to a minor; that there are conflicts in testimonies and perceptions; that this violation was the first offense of that particular violation for the licensee of C-Town Liquors and Deli; that the Board believed the evidence given "tipped the scale" in favor of the occurrence of the violation; and that it is the commitment of the Board to "get the message out" to the County's businesses that they must conduct their sale of alcoholic beverages according to the law.

The Board of License Commissioners fined C-Town Liquors and Deli $100.00.

The hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 10:30 a.m.


An Administrative Hearing was held at 10:35 a.m. in the Commissioners' Hearing Room. The following people were in attendance: Nilesh V. Desai, President, Super Soda Center, Chestertown Group, LLC., licensee, Kausar Mahmood, President, Super Soda Center II, JK Flatland, Inc., licensee, Alpaben R. Patel, President, Suds-n-Soda, Neel, Inc., licensee, Basil Wadkovsky, Esq., representing Mr. Mahmood and Mrs. Patel, and the following summoned witnesses were in attendance: Sergeant Virginia Prince of the Maryland State Police, Centreville Barrack "S", and Thomas Thelen, a MD State Police Cadet.

Hearing no objections from the licensees that all three alleged violations be heard at one and the same time, Ms. Hayman read the notice of the alleged violations into the record as violations of Alcoholic Beverage Laws Article 2B, Section 12-108, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, service to a person under the age of twenty-one, that took place on February 20, 2004 between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. at Super Soda Center, Super Soda Center II, and Suds-in-Soda, all in Chestertown.

Mr. Stetson was sworn-in to give testimony and proceeded to report that he received an incident report dated February 22, 2004, submitted by Sgt. Virginia Prince of the Maryland State Police, Centreville Barrack, in which Sgt. Prince indicated that she and a MD State Police Cadet, Thomas Thelen (20 years old), visited six licensed establishments in the County on February 20, 2004.

In her report, Sgt. Prince indicated that of the six visited, the following three establishments sold alcoholic beverages to Cadet Thelen: Super Soda Center, 302 Maple Avenue, Super Soda Center II, 176 Flatland Road, and Suds-n-Soda, 1014 Washington Avenue, all in Chestertown.

In Mr. Stetson's opinion, Sgt. Prince's incident report appears to contain sufficient information to indicate probable cause that there was a violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Laws by the establishments cited, all Class "A", off-sale.

Mr. Stetson, responding to Ms. Hayman's questioning, stated that he has served as Alcoholic Beverage Inspector for 18 years.

After being sworn-in by Ms. Hayman, Sgt. Prince and Cadet Thelen were questioned by Ms. Hayman, beginning with testimony by Sgt. Prince. Sgt. Prince stated that she was assigned to conduct underage alcohol purchases and in turn assigned Cadet Thelen to assist, both of whom conducted their visits in plain clothes. Sgt. Prince directed Cadet Thelen to make said purchases and, if asked by the store clerk for an ID, to present his driver's license as proof of his age. She explained that she photographed the Cadet just prior to the visits, noting that his appearance was not intentionally altered, except for the allowance of some facial hair growth and plain clothes.

The photo and all the Cadet's purchases of beer associated with the alleged violations were submitted as an exhibits.

Sgt. Prince testified that on February 20th, at 6:55 p.m., she and the Cadet arrived at Super Soda Center by car; Sgt. Prince remained in the car and indicated that she was able to observe the Cadet's activity while he was in the store. She observed the Cadet go to the cooler in the store and, carrying one, 6-pack of 12-oz. Michelob Lite proceeded to make the transaction for the beer. No employee asked for his ID until the Cadet was leaving the store with his purchase. When the employee asked the Cadet if he had an ID, the Cadet answered in the affirmative and offered to show it; however, the employee said, "No, you look 21".

Sgt. Prince then testified that after visiting Lewes Dairy Market, at which no violation occurred, she and the Cadet then visited Super Soda Center II at 7:22 p.m., conducting this visit similarly to the one at Super Soda Center. Sgt Prince reported that the Cadet proceeded to purchase one, six-pack of Bud Lite, 7oz. bottles at Super Soda Center II and that he was not asked by any employee to display an ID.

Sgt. Prince then stated that she and Cadet Thelen visited Suds-n-Soda at 7:30 p.m., and she was not able to observe the activity within the store from the car in which she waited. She testified that the Cadet purchased one, six-pack of Miller Lite 12oz. bottles of beer and that no employee asked the Cadet to display an ID. She and Cadet Thelen then visited Pip's Discount Liquors and C-Town Liquors and Deli, at which no violations occurred.

When asked for any comments, Mr. Wadkovsky indicated that he had none.

Cadet Thelen was then asked by Ms. Hayman for his account of said incidents on February 20th. He affirmed the testimony given by Sgt. Prince. Following the above visit, Cadet Thelen then visited Suds-n-Soda, purchased a six-pack of beer, and, as he was leaving the store, he heard one employee ask another, "Did you check his ID?" to which the other employee said, "Oh, I didn't even think of it. I forgot." The Cadet explained that he then left the store.

To questions posed by Mr. Wadkovsky, Cadet Thelen indicated that on October 28, 2004, he will be 21 years of age. The Cadet further explained that in Super Soda Center II, there were about five people in the store, with only one customer in line before him at the cash register; the other customers were scattered throughout the store.

The Cadet testified that at Suds-n-Soda, there were no other customers or employees in the store at the time of his visit. He also stated that he completed all of his visits by 7:50 p.m., after which, he returned to each of the establishments at which alleged violations were observed and, except for Super Soda Center II, informed the employees who sold beer to him that they had sold to a minor. At Super Soda Center II, he gave the same information to an employee who was not present at the time of his purchase.

Deborah Bromwell was sworn in to give testimony and indicated that she has been an employee of Suds-n-Soda with its current owners since September 2003, and before that with previous owners at the same store.

Responding to Mr. Wadkovsky's questions, Ms. Bromwell stated that she did not recall seeing Cadet Thelen enter the store at the time of the purchase on February 20th, and indicated that, although the store was not busy during said evening, there was a "steady stream" of customers coming and going. She also indicated that the owners of Suds-n-Soda did instruct her and all of their employees to ask underage customers for proof of age. Ms. Bromwell explained that another employee, named Peter, was attending to the cash register on February 20th.

Responding to Commissioner Livie's question, she reiterated that she did not remember observing the Cadet's visit in the store. Cadet Thelen responded to the question by indicating that a female employee served him and that he did remember a male employee present who was serving the Lotto customers.

Responding to further questioning by Commissioner Livie, Ms. Bromwell explained that it is her policy to request the ID's of the customers she has not seen before in the store as well as those who look underage. She stated that she did remember the visit of the Cadet when he was accompanied by Sgt. Prince.

Mr. Mahmood was then sworn-in for giving testimony and stated that he was working at Lewes Dairy Market on February 20th. He testified further that he spoke by telephone with an employee at Super Soda Center II and that he and the employee mentioned to one another their observance of the Cadet in said stores.

Responding to questioning by Mr. Wadkovsky, Mr. Mahmood stated that it is his policy to ID underage customers.

The Commissioners went into recess at 11:00 a.m. for approximately 20 minutes and upon their return, Commissioner Pickrum began stating the Board's findings: that they had found the allegations proven; that the alleged violations did in fact occur; and that the violations represent a first offense for all three establishments.

Mr. Wadkovsky requested that the Commissioners take discretion and consider the following in their deliberations: that the employees of said stores were all conscientious and diligent; that an underaged person may be perceived, despite employees' diligence, as a customer of legal-age; that he understood the deterrent to which the Commissioners are committed, that the alcoholic beverage businesses in the County must "tighten up" their practices; and that the violations represent a first offense for these licensees.

Commissioner Pickrum proceeded to provide the disposition of the Board of License Commissioners as follows: that they found Super Soda Center, Super Soda Center II, and Suds-n-Soda responsible for the violations of Alcoholic Beverage Laws Article 2B, Section 12-108, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, service to a person under the age of twenty-one, and that they would receive the maximum penalty of a $500.00 fine each and a 15 day suspension of the sale of alcoholic beverages; however 13 days of the 15 day suspension will be waived. The days suspended will be March 26 and 27, 2004.

Commissioner Pickrum expressed the opinion of the Board that the Cadet appeared to them, based on the photo exhibit, to be older than 21 years of age; nevertheless, the appearance of the Cadet did not excuse the necessity of carding customers.

Further, Commissioner Pickrum emphasized that the Board is doing everything it can do deter underage drinking of alcoholic beverages. Commissioner Crow concurred, adding that the Board had heard four hearings concerning the same in just the past two weeks. He insisted that this community does not want any violations of its alcoholic beverage laws and that, therefore, the Board is committed to sending a clear message of the same through the County.

The hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 11:22 a.m.

There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, March 30, 2004.


Janice F. Fletcher
Executive Assistant

Approved: William W. Pickrum, President


Please contact Ileana Lindstrom or Janice Fletcher at (410) 778-7435 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.



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