News - May 12, 2010

Local vendors caught selling alcohol to minors

Three local vendors, including the Sharon Heights Safeway, were caught selling alcohol to minors by Menlo Park police Saturday, May 1, according to the police department.

Police sent teenagers to try to buy alcohol from 17 different stores in the city. Workers at three of the venues — the Rock of Gibraltar at 1022 Alma Street, the Sharon Heights Safeway, and the Chevron at 3600 Alameda de las Pulgas — sold alcohol to the police decoy, police said.

The city received a grant from the state to carry out the operation, holding an "education seminar" for all vendors with liquor licenses in the city several day before the city sent the decoys around, according to police.

The vendors will face a small fine, and/or community service hours, according to police. Penalties could also include a large fine and suspension or revocation of the liquor license, pending review by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, police said.

While state and federal law has plenty to say about entrapment, the California Supreme Court has ruled that "minor decoy" programs are not illegal, according to Officer James Luevano. The state stipulates that the minor "must have the appearance of a minor, cannot wear clothing or jewelry that would make them look older, and must answer truthfully if asked their age," Officer Luevano wrote in a press release.


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