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Home News-Telegram News Hopkins County: Only 1 business in latest sting sold alcohol to minor

Hopkins County: Only 1 business in latest sting sold alcohol to minor

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Another undercover sting operation by sheriff’s deputies to crack down on the selling of alcohol to minors over the weekend resulted in only one business — out of 17 tested — selling alcohol to a minor. In two previous attempts, at least five stores sold to minors each time.

The Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office began conducting stings last September after making stops and responding to calls in which minors were found with alcohol; further investigation traced some of the beverages to stores which sold the liquor to juveniles.

The midnight shift deputies, headed by Sgt. Corley Weatherford, came in on their own time to carry out the stings. They enlisted the help of a minor on each of three occasions. The minor was sent into a store that sells alcohol, picked up beer or similar items — depending on what was available — and took them to the counter for purchase. If the minor was able to make the purchase, the alcohol was handed off to a deputy. A uniformed deputy who was waiting outside the store then went in to talk to each clerk who sold to a minor about the illegal action.

In September, five of the seven stores throughout Hopkins County that were tested sold to minors. In one instance, alcohol was purchased twice at the same store by minors. At that store, they waited for the clerk to change. A minor again went in and bought from the new clerk. Only one chain of stores tested in September did not sell to the minor during the sting.

The sheriff’s deputies again volunteered their time to come in early to conduct a sting on New Year’s Eve. Half of the businesses tested, eight of 16, sold alcohol to minors on Dec. 31. Some of those stores, however, were repeat offenders, although the same clerks were not involved.

“They tested 17 stores throughout Hopkins County, including Sulphur Springs, in the latest sting,” HCSO Chief Investigator Lewis Tatum said Monday. “Only one person sold to a minor, so they’re doing better. We used a female this time; only one store sold to her and that was in Cumby. No businesses in Sulphur Springs sold to minors this time.”

“Selling alcohol to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor offense. The clerks are the ones who would be charged in these type of cases. If someone under 21 came in and they asked for an  ID and the minor acted 21 and gave a false ID, that’d be a defense. In these situations, they didn’t ask for ID. I think it would be a defense to prosecution if a minor tried to make the the clerk think they were over 21. That’s not what happened here,” Hopkins County Attorney Dusty Rabe explained following the first sting.

Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office will continue to periodically conduct stings, selecting businesses at random to test whether clerks will sell alcohol to minors until they are able to do so without any stores selling to minors and they quit finding minors with alcohol that is found to have been sold to the minor at local stores.




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