Acting on numerous public complaints of possible illegal beer sales to minors, the Smithville Police Department conducted an investigation Monday targeting all eleven stores in the city licensed to sell beer for consumption off the premises.
Only one arrest was made. 19 year old Danielle Owens, a store clerk at On The Way market on South Congress Boulevard is charged with the misdemeanor offense of selling alcohol to a minor. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on September 12.
Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE Tuesday that the investigation was conducted by Lieutenant Matt Holmes and Detective Brandon Donnell. A 20 year old officer from another county, in plain clothes, attempted to make a beer purchase from each store.
The officer made an attempt to purchase beer from the following businesses in this order: Kwik-N-Ezy, Village Market, East Side Citgo, On the Way, Jewel's Market, Food Lion, Dollar General Store, El Mariachi, Walmart, BP, and Mapco.
In all but one case, the store clerks refused to make the beer sales to the undercover officer after checking his ID and using an age chart to verify his age. He was denied the sale and told he was too young to buy beer.
The exception was with Owens at On the Way market. "Upon stopping at On the Way, the undercover person advised that the clerk checked his ID and then accepted his ten dollar bill and made the transaction for the alcohol, giving him $3.65 in change," said Lieutenant Holmes. "A short time later the suspect (store clerk) was identified as 19 year old Danielle Owens. Warrants were taken and she was located at her home at 520 Miller Road. Owens was arrested and charged with selling alcohol to a minor," added Lieutenant Holmes.
Police made contact with the store owner and the ten dollar bill used to purchase the alcohol was found in the cash register. Identification of the bill was confirmed by checking the serial numbers.
Lieutenant Holmes commended the store clerks who followed the law and did what they were supposed to do.
The store's beer permit holder could also be subject to a suspension or revocation of the license by the city beer board because of this incident. The city's beer ordinance states that "It shall be unlawful for any beer permit holder to make or allow any sale of beer to a minor under twenty one years of age."
The beer ordinance further provides that "Under the finding of any violation of the beer permit holder, the punishment for the first offense shall be a minimum suspension of the beer permit for a period of 90 days. Upon any permit holder committing a violation a second time, the punishment shall be the revocation of the beer license."