Liquor officials to conduct random inspections of businesses


Effective immediately, Carroll liquor inspectors will begin conducting random inspections of all establishments in the county that are licensed to sell alcohol, the county liquor board said yesterday.

The new enforcement policy was prompted by two recent license violations involving sales to minors, board members said.

Before the policy change, board investigators and police cadets under the age of 21 visited the establishments in response to complaints. Usually, the complaints involved sales to minors, board members said.

Board Chairman Russell Mayer said, for example, that if an inspector is working in one part of the county and is nearing the end of his work shift, the inspector will remain in that area and spot-check licensed establishments for violations.

The new policy also will reduce the board's dependence on the police cadet program, which is shrinking in membership.

"It's getting harder and harder to get a cadet to go in," Mr. Mayer said. "That program is just about gone, so we have to work with what we've got."

Liquor board officials have been relying on members of the state police's Explorer Scout post in sting operations, Mr. Mayer said. He said the county employs two adult investigators.

Board members also handed down decisions in the two violations yesterday.

The first case involved a 15-year-old Manchester resident who bought a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor from Number One North on Oct. 16.

Board members fined the owners $1,000 and suspended their liquor license for five days. However, the suspension will be waived if all employees attend an alcohol management course within six months.

The teen-ager, whose name is being withheld because he is a juvenile, asked Rajendra Patel, an owner of the Manchester convenience store, if he would sell him the alcohol. When he refused, the youth asked employee Songklod "Quan" Khampraphai, who agreed.

Manchester police Officer Joseph Lettau saw the teen leaving the convenience store, knew the youth wasn't of age and arrested him.

In the second case, a state police sting operation, waitress Joyce Blalack at the Crossroads Inn in Keymar served a beer to 18-year-old Eric Helm, a member of the state police's Explorer Scout post.

Ms. Blalack had asked to see Eric's license, but misread it in the bar's dim light.

Crossroads received a $500 fine and a five-day license suspension. As in the Number One North case, board members will waive the five-day suspension if all the establishment's bartenders attend an alcohol management course.

Mr. Mayer said the board was more lenient in the Crossroads Inn case because the violation appeared to be a simple mistake.

Mr. Patel and John R. Shorb, owner of the Crossroads Inn, both declined to comment on their cases.

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