Hermanville C

Attorney Mike Davis represents Hermanville C-Store 

Leonardtown, MD – Three alcohol and tobacco retailers in St. Mary’s County will think twice this year before making sales without verifying their customers’ ages. Results of being naughty last November landed these retailers a pretty nice New Year’s fine, compliments of the St. Mary’s Alcohol and Beverage Board (ABB). Top of the fine list–repeat offender, Hermanville C-Store located in Lexington Park.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, the five-member ABB met for their first business meeting of their year, and members didn’t waste any time rolling up their sleeves to work on a full agenda of alcohol and tobacco violations.

Board Attorney James Tanavage said, “Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, Cpl. Stone worked with an underage informant, a 17-year old high school senior, to perform routine compliance checks for alcohol and tobacco.”

Starting Jan 1, 2017, the new fine matrix developed by the ABB will regulate penalty amounts for violators of tobacco and alcohol laws. The new matrix no longer suspends a portion of the fine for either the license holder or the establishment employee. It doesn’t change the amount of time to pay the fine. All violators will still have 10 days to pay their fine, and up to 30 days to file an appeal of a decision.

The charges in the case of a repeat offender were stated by Tanavage as “The underage informant went into the Hermanville C-Store and went into the cooler for a 40-ounce beer, walked to the counter and asked the clerk for a 3-pack box of Black and Mild Cigars. At no time did the store clerk ask for identification from the informant.”

Store Clerk Uttam Singh of Hermanville C-Store admitted to the stated facts. According to Board’s records, Singh had a similar violation in Dec. 2015.  Singh, as well as the license holder Mohammad Qureshi of Hermanville C-Store were represented by Attorney Mike Davis.

Davis said, “Mr. Singh received a $300 citation for this from Cpl. Stone and believes it was paid.” Cpl. Stone said, “I just confirmed that the fine has been paid on Mr. Singh’s behalf.”

Davis explained the convenience liquor store is in a highly-traveled area, and at the time of the incident, it was rush hour for that part of town. He said, “The store is near a very busy intersection near a base exit at Three Notch and Hermanville Roads. Normally, there are two employees in the store, but this particular day Mr. Qureshi was away on business.” Davis told the Board during the week from 2:30 to 7 p.m. it is like rush hour in that area, which is the time-frame the underage informant made the purchase.  

Before the Board made their decision, Davis asked if he could make a point. He asked if anyone had seen a picture of the informant. He noted the boy was physically large and tall for his age. Davis said, “At the time of the incident, he was 17-years-old, but now he is 18 and he looks like a football player.”

Busy or not, Hermanville C-Store’s license holder Quereshi was fined $1,250 and instructed to attend R.A.S.T. training and put on probation for three years. Sales clerk and repeat offender Singh was fined an additional $250 and instructed to attend R.A.S.T. training.

Even after 26 years of working as a sales clerk with alcohol, you can still get caught being non-compliant. Jeffrey Baumbach of Valley Lee, a 26-year employee of International Beverages, Deli, and Cadillac Jacks illegally sold alcohol to a minor.

Attorney Tanavage told the Board, “Cpl. Stone was with the 17-year old on Nov. 22, and they went to International Beverages Cadillac Jacks located on Great Mills Road in Lexington Park where the informant used the drive-through window. He reported contact with the clerk, and he asked for a cold  6-pack of Corona Light Beer. The clerk finished the transaction and never asked for identification.”

Before deliberation began, it was noted this was their first offense. Board Chairman Theodore Belleavonie asked the license holder, Paul Choporis of Valley Lee if he had any questions, and he responded, “No, I do not.”

Cadillac Jacks’ license holder Choporis was fined $500 with $250 held in advance, put on 3 years of probation, and ordered to attend R.A.S.T. training.

Sales Clerk Jeffrey Baumbach said, “I am not going to make any excuses for what happened. I apologize and I really don’t know what happen.” Board Member Kevin Hall asked Baumbach, “Have you been to R.A.S.T. training before?”

Baumbach said, “Yes, it has been a while.I have been working at Cadillac Jacks since 1990 and I check most people.” He said he normally cards customers. He said, “I apologize that this happened.”

Unfortunately, he didn’t card this time and it will cost him $250, R.A.S.T. training attendance and 3 years’ probation.

Purnima B. Patel of Twist Wine and Spirits located in Lexington Park also received a $250 fine, instructions to attend R.A.S.T. and three years’ probation for selling Black and Mild cigars to a minor

The Alcohol Enforcement coordinator position is currently vacant, due to Cpl. Stone’s reassignment last month. Cpl. Stone told TheBayNet.com, “No one has applied for the position.” Sheriff Cameron was on the Board’s agenda to discuss this issue, however, the sheriff was not present.

There was one other violation on the Board agenda for Stop and Shop, a convenience liquor located on Great Mills Road in Lexington Park. However, for the first time in Alcohol Beverage Board history, the violator did not appear. No one answered when the business was called during the meeting. It was confirmed that notification was sent to them and decided they will be put on the business agenda for next month.

Cpl. Stone will investigate into their absence. He said, “I am in that area, I will stop by and see what happened.”

Contact Shertina Mack at s.mack@TheBayNet.com