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3 Package Stores Busted In Sting

Local Spirit Shops Sell Alcohol To Minors In Set Up

By Kate King
On April 24, 2008

Three local liquor stores, Villa Spirits Shoppe, Ted's Spirit Shoppe and Holiday Spirits, were caught selling alcohol to a minor during an undercover state police sting conducted last Thursday.

During the sting, state police and liquor control agents sent a 19-year-old volunteer into the store to attempt to purchase alcohol, according to a story published in the Hartford Courant. If identification was requested, volunteers in these stings were instructed to provide IDs showing their real ages.

Thursday's violation will undoubtedly mean a heavy fine and a possible store closing for Villa Spirits Shoppe, according to co-owner Barney Brodin, who said he didn't agree with the way the police stings are carried out. According to Brodin, a police officer and representative from the state liquor commission came to the store at 9 p.m. and informed employees that they had sold alcohol to a minor earlier in the evening. Brodin believes that the authorities should alert the store of the violation immediately after it occurs in order to avoid confusion.

"Almost every year we get hit with this," Brodin said. "They send a kid in to buy a six-pack and we get fined ... all they want is money."

Last year, the store received a $5,000 fine and was forced to close for three days after a minor purchased alcohol using a fake ID from New Jersey during a similar sting, Brodin said.

It takes three years without receiving a violation for a liquor store's slate to be wiped clean after they are caught by police for selling alcohol to minors, Brodin said. Since the severity of the punishment doubles each year, Brodin expects the store to receive a $10,000 fine and forced closure for one week after last Thursday's violation.

It takes several months before the Connecticut Liquor Control Commission notifies the store of its punishment, Brodin said. Several calls made to the commission yesterday were not returned.

The violation on the part of Holiday Spirits, located on Route 195, "is more embarrassment on our part than anything," said employee Michael Mizla. "This is our first violation in 38 years and it will not happen again."

The employee who sold the alcohol to the minor Thursday did not use the store's scanning machine to verify the minor's identification and has since been fired, according to Mizla. Holiday Spirits employees are trained to scan every ID presented to them during alcohol sales.

Since this is Holiday Spirit's first violation in 38 years, Mizla expects that the store will receive a written citation for their files rather than any kind of fine or store closure. Like Brodin, Mizla expects that the store will be alerted of their punishment sometime this summer.

"Basically the ball's in liquor control's court right now," Mizla said. "Whatever they tell us, we do."

The owner of Ted's Spirit Shoppe, located on North Eagleville Road, could not confirm or deny that the store was caught selling alcohol to a minor last Thursday. He said he was not present in the store Thursday night and has not received any paperwork regarding the violation.

UConn police were not involved in Thursday's sting, according to Major Ronald Blicher.

"We do a variety of different methods to combat underage drinking and drunk driving," Blicher said. He could not comment on specific tactics the UConn police use to verify that liquor stores are not selling alcohol to minors.

When selling alcohol, Villa Spirits Shoppe employees check the picture, expiration date and age on a patron's identification, Bronin said. The store has an ID scanner but only uses it when the employee is suspicious of the ID's validity.

In light of Spring Weekend at UConn, the store has taken extra precautions in order to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors, Brodin said. Patrons are carded twice: upon entering the store and at the cash register.

Contact Kate King at

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