Police say a minor was able to buy alcohol at nine Clayton businesses, including the town’s ABC store on U.S. 70 Business.
The nine businesses were a mix of grocery and convenience stores, plus the state-run liquor store. Police say they used a 17-year-old volunteer to visit 27 alcohol-selling businesses around town. The teen was to try to buy booze and then show a real ID.
“There was no deception,” town spokeswoman Stacy Beard said.
The teen was able to buy the alcohol at: Sheetz on N.C. 42, Lowes Food on U.S. 70 Business, Howard’s MiniMart on Barbour Mill Road, Crown Fast Fare on U.S. 70 Business, the ABC store on U.S. 70 Business, Speedway on N.C. 42, La Nueva Frontera on U.S 70 Business, La Bonita on Main Street and Compare Foods on Second Street.
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Of the nine, police said six looked at the teen’s ID but sold the alcohol anyway, while the other three didn’t ask to see a license.
The clerk at each businesses could be charged with selling alcohol illegally, and the state’s Alcohol Law Enforcement division could cite the retailer as well, the town said. A judge will determine punishment, though the offenses are all misdemeanors, Beard said. State statute mentions a fine of $250 and 25 hours of community service, but other sentencing options are available.
Clayton police have performed underage alcohol sweeps in the past, but this is the first time the ABC store has been cited for selling to a minor, Beard said. In 2015, the liquor store closest to Clayton asked to be annexed to the town for security reasons, so it now falls under the police department’s jurisdiction.
Swade Carroll, general manager for Johnston County ABC, said the clerk cited by police would likely face a fine and a training class through ALE but would likely keep her job. Carroll said he had questions about the logistics of the Clayton sting but had so far been unable to get in touch with the detective running the operation.
“It seems like big-time entrapment,” Carroll said.
Clayton Police Chief Wayne Bridges declined to comment on Carroll’s entrapment suggestion, but said that’s up to the courts.