Royal Food Store on Lavonia Highway hit with another alcohol violation

A sting operation in Hart County by the Georgia Department of Revenue on Dec. 21, 2018 resulted in a violation at Royal Food Store #4 located at 5338 Lavonia Highway. An employee was accused of selling beer to an underage person.

In introducing the agenda item, Chairman Joey Dorsey stated this particular location has had similar issues in the past.

Hart County County Attorney Walter Gordon said the employee had admitted to the violation.

There was a Department of Revenue operation that basically sent an undercover operator in and they were successful at purchasing beer at an age of less than 21, so it’s a static offense. The employee who was responsible, it was not the owner, but the employee who was responsible did enter a plea of guilty on Feb. 15 in magistrate court and waived their rights to a jury trial,” said Gordon.

Gordon said the county usually issues a suspension on alcohol license violations and outlined the recourse offered to the license holder.

What you have done in the past, typically, is to levy a suspension on the location. As the chairman said, this is a location has not had a good past, has not had a good history, but it is currently under new management and the management that’s there now has not had a previous violation. Whatever you choose to do, the store owner or license holder will be notified. They will then have the opportunity to request a hearing. I think it’s 15 days, to request a hearing before the board of commissioners and if they do so, then we’ll have a hearing,” said Gordon.

Chairman Dorsey then questioned why the actions by the previous owner to stop the violations were not carried over to the new owner.

There were some things that the owner said he put in place, the previous owner, after his second issue. My question is why did that not transfer? I know I’m not going to get an answer to that, but what I think we ought to do is suspend his license indefinitely until we have a hearing and go from there,” said Dorsey.

According to the city’s ordinances, a first offense calls for a 30-day suspension and a second offense calls for a 60-day suspension. Gordon told the chairman this offense can only be considered a first offense due to it being a new license holder with no prior issues.

Commissioner Ricky Carter suggested putting more emphasis on holding employees more responsible for violations.

I don’t know if it would be legal to do this, but I’ve been thinking about this beer and wine thing, but I think that the person that actually works in that store should be required to have some kind of certificate and would have to produce that. I don’t know if we can do that or not. They read the book. They understand the law, state law, county ordinance, everything. They then sign off and if they’re caught a second or third time they can no longer work in that environment. That would take some of the burden off of store owners. We also should require store owners that they have set written policies,” said Carter.

Commissioners voted unanimously to suspend the license for 30 days, which went into effect on Wednesday.