Stores accused of selling alcohol to minors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2016

By Melanie Ruberti

LaGRANGE — The owners of two local convenience stores found themselves in trouble with the law after police said they were caught selling alcohol to minors Tuesday afternoon during an undercover operation.

LaGrange Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit cited the owner of the Chevron station at 315 New Franklin Road and the owner of the Citgo at 303 Commerce Ave.

According to Sgt. Mark Cavender, head of SIU, the team received several complaints both stores were selling alcohol to minors.

Cavender said SIU investigators did a surprise check on the convenience stores Tuesday using undercover officers and caught employees in both businesses illegally selling the beverages to people under 21.

The owners were cited at the scene by SIU for the offense and will have to appear in municipal court, Cavender stated.

He also said the charges against the businesses will be reported to the city manager and City Council, as outlined in the new city bar ordinance, plus disclosed to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

According to Cavender, both stores have been cited for selling alcohol to minors once before in the past five years.

He stated since this is a second occurrence for both businesses, they could be fined by the court.

The Chevron convenience store also was in trouble with local and state law enforcement agencies on April 17, 2015.

Investigators with SIU, the GBI’s Commercial Gambling Task Force and the State Lottery Commission raided the business for illegal gambling machines. Cavender said in another SIU undercover operation, officers discovered the store was rewarding customers whom won a game with cash, which is illegal in the state of Georgia.

The store faced criminal and civil illegal gambling charges.

The case was later turned over to State Lottery Commission and is now part of a larger, statewide investigation, Cavender stated.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.