BANGOR, Maine — The Police Department’s Special Enforcement Team has reformed and just spent two weeks running a sting operation to see whether local stores were selling alcohol to minors.
Volunteers, who were over the age of 18, but not yet age 21 — the legal age required to purchase alcohol in Maine — went into every store in Bangor during the last two weeks of December and attempted to purchase beer, wine or hard alcohol, Sgt. Paul Edwards said Wednesday.
They were successful three times.
“[Sgt.] Brad Johnston, who ran the operation, said they did every single store in the city and only those three violated the law,” he said. “That’s pretty good.”
Clerks at State Street One Stop, located at 96 State St., Leadbetter’s Super Stop, 322 Stillwater Ave., and Garland Street Market, 102 Garland St., sold alcohol to the minors.
One clerk actually asked the under age 21 volunteer for his or her date of birth, which was given accurately, and still allowed the minor to purchase alcohol, Edwards said. Because he knew the age of the purchaser, that clerk was charged with furnishing.
“Furnishing [alcohol] is more severe, tougher” than the sale of alcohol to a minor charges, he said.
Matthew Baker, 24, of Bangor and a clerk at Garland Street Market was charged with furnishing liquor to a minor, which is a Class D misdemeanor crime that carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
He is scheduled to be in court on Jan. 20.
Robin Ruffrage, 26, of Corinth and a clerk at Leadbetter’s, and Lindsey Farrington, 23, of Bangor and a clerk at State Street One Stop, both were given tickets that charged them with sale of alcohol to a minor. The fine for those charges is $190, and increases if repeat offenses occur.
The store owners of the Leadbetter’s and One Stop also were charged with the sale of alcohol to a minor. Those charges are administrative and a court date is not given unless the store owner elects to go to trial at a later date, Edwards said. The fine is $500 for a first offense, and would increase if repeat offenses occur, he said.
The department’s special enforcement team “just got back together about two months ago,” Edwards said. In addition to the underage alcohol sales sting, the group will be tasked with community-related crimes, for example, “they’ll do radar details on streets where we have issues with speeders. They’ll work on some theft cases.”
“The SET team will continue to monitor and spot check local businesses licensed to sell alcohol as part of their duties,” Edwards said in a press release.