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McMinnville Woman Indicted in DeKalb Arson

November 25, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and deputies with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department has resulted in the arrest of a McMinnville woman on an arson charge.

In April, Agents were requested to join deputies with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and DeKalb County Fire Department in investigating a structure fire on April 14th, in the 200 block of Lee Homer Road in Smithville. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that identified 47 year old Jan Winchester of Bethany Road, McMinnville as the individual responsible for setting the fire.

On November 16th, the DeKalb County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Jan Marie Winchester with one count of Arson. She was arrested Monday and booked into the DeKalb County Jail on a $40,000 bond.

Your support needed for DeKalb Angel Tree Project but hurry because the deadline is approaching

November 25, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

The 26th Annual DeKalb County Angel Tree Project is underway and your support is needed to help make this holiday season merrier for 334 children. The December 4th deadline is fast approaching and there are still hundreds of Angels left from which to choose.

Laura Stone said Angel Trees are located at First Bank and Wilson Bank in Smithville and Liberty State and Wilson Bank in Alexandria. Please consider adopting an Angel today or if you have no time to shop, donations can be made at Wilson Bank or any Smithville or Alexandria bank branch and the Volunteers will do the shopping for you.

Smithville Beer Board Suspends Licenses of Three Businesses for 90 Days

November 25, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

The Smithville Beer Board has suspended the beer licenses of three businesses for violations of the city’s beer ordinance which prohibits the illegal sales of alcohol to a person under the age of 21.

The 90 day suspensions take effect today (Wednesday) at T&B Discount Tobacco and Beer at 102 East Broad Street, Sunoco Convenience Market at 598 East Broad Street, and Disco Tienda Latina of East Broad Street.

Clerks at these three stores were cited for selling beer to a minor as a result of an undercover investigation conducted Thursday, October 22 by detectives of the Smithville Police Department using a 19 year old man to make the beer purchases. Police said in each case the store clerks failed to ask the minor to show identification.

During a Beer Board hearing Tuesday afternoon at city hall, representatives from two of the businesses, Sunoco and Disco Tienda Latina, had no attorneys representing them to mount a legal challenge and admitted to the violations saying that the offenses were not intended but the result of mistakes on the part of their employees.

Local attorney Jeremy Trapp represented the owner of T&B Discount Tobacco and Beer and said his client had not violated the city’s beer ordinance because he was not at the store that day and did not make the sale himself.

Trapp referred to the city’s beer ordinance which 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.”

According to Trapp, the ordinance does not address the actions of a permit holder’s employees and since his client himself had not sold beer to a minor his beer license should not be suspended.

“There is no proof that this gentleman had any knowledge that this lady (store clerk) was going to do anything improper. The very ordinance they are trying to suspend the license with prohibits the permit holder from making or allowing the sale. Other ordinances and statutes (in other cities) say the permit holder or their agents and employees shall not make a sale. This ordinance does not say that. This ordinance strictly prohibits the permit holder himself. In this case he is not the one who sold the beer. We are not saying its okay to sell alcohol to a minor. We are saying there is not a violation by this permit holder. He did not violate it and the person who did was charged with the offense by police,” said Trapp.

City Attorney Vester Parsley countered that the beer permit holder is still responsible for the actions of his employees.

“His employee did allow the sale and did not ask for an ID. The permit holder is responsible for the conduct and negligence of his employees and this must be so otherwise all licensees could insulate themselves from any illegal or prohibited conduct of employees,” said Parsley.

The hearing began with Smithville Police Detective James Cornelius presenting the case against T&B Discount Tobacco and Beer to the beer board and showing videos related to the undercover operation. He said the investigation started based on public complaints of underage people being able to buy alcohol at different locations in the city.

“Based on these complaints we decided to put together an undercover alcohol sale investigation which was conducted at 14 different establishments by myself and Detective Brandon Donnell in the city limits of Smithville. We enlisted the assistance of a 19 year old male in the undercover capacity. Three of the locations sold beer to the minor. The undercover person entered T & B Discount Tobacco and Beer at about 1:38 p.m. October 22. He got a six pack of 16 ounce Natural Ice Beer from the cooler and took the beer to the counter where the clerk scanned the beer. The clerk told the undercover person the amount of the purchase without asking for an ID of any kind. The clerk placed the beer in a bag. The undercover agent gave the clerk the money. The clerk made change and gave it to the undercover agent and then he came out of the store with the beer. We went back later that day and issued a citation,” said Detective Cornelius.

At the end of the hearing, members of the beer board, Annette Greek, Curt Rust, and Danny Washer, voted unanimously in each case to suspend the beer licenses for 90 days according to the city’s beer ordinance for a first offense violation.

The owner of T&B Discount Tobacco told the board the suspension would have a significant impact on his business especially with the holidays upcoming since the store sells primarily beer and tobacco products.

Meanwhile the clerks at the three businesses must answer to their citations in court. The clerk at Disco Tienda Latina, 37 year old Ender Alexander Cabrera has reportedly already made a court appearance where he entered a plea and was fined and given probation for a year. The other two clerks are 31 year old Amber Gayle Coots of T&B Discount Tobacco and Beer and 30 year old Sonni Amruthai Patel of the Sunoco Convenience Market. They were each cited for sale of alcohol to a person under age 21.

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