30-day, 2-day license suspensions coming for Wareham liquor stores punished for selling to minors

Sep 11

Selectmen punished the owners of two liquor stores for selling alcohol to minors this July, slapping one store with a 30-day suspension for a second offense and imposing a two-day suspension for a store that had its first violation in 15 years.

The Jug Shop’s alcohol license will be suspended from Dec. 2 to Jan. 2 after owner Adelaide Deponte, of Mansfield, sold the same 19-year-old undercover agent a six-pack of Budweiser on July 26 and again on July 31. Selectmen handed down the punishment on Tuesday, Sept. 11, just two weeks after Deponte was given a two-day suspension for the initial offense. 

Wareham Police conducted identification compliance checks of all the town’s liquor stores this summer. In total, four failed the initial check, but the Jug Shop was the only store to fail the second check. As punishment for the first offense, all four stores will have their licenses suspended on Oct. 2 and 3. In addition to the Jug Shop, the stores that failed are: Mayflower Liquors, 3150 Cranberry Highway, Anchor Liquors, 2360 Cranberry Highway and Sullivan’s Wine & Spirits, 260 Marion Road.

Board members told Deponte they’re sending a message that underage sales will not be tolerated.

“One time can be a mistake,” said Selectman Peter Teitelbaum. “The second time not asking for ID is a business decision.”

Selectman Patrick Tropeano agreed.

“I believe we gave them a slap on the wrist the last time around,” said Tropeano. “Five days apart like this is just blatant as far as I’m concerned and deserves a 30-day suspension.”

Deponte admitted the sale and apologized.

“The first time I was hurt, and I was very sick about it, and the second time I couldn’t believe it happened again to me,” said Deponte. “The only thing I can say is we’re still doing our best to not do it again.”

While Selectmen can only take administrative action against store owners, police are pursuing criminal charges against Deponte for the sale, according to Acting Police Chief John Walcek.

Selectmen also suspended Sullivan’s Wine & Spirits liquor license for two days (with a caveat) following its first violation since opening in 2003. Because store owner Don Sullivan took action immediately after the violation only one day of the suspension will be served.

Sullivan explained that the Sunday after the violation, which occurred on July 26, he closed the store and had a mandatory staff meeting with all 15 of his employees. The staff went through special training, which was originally scheduled for November, designed to prevent underage sales.

“We have zero tolerance,” said Sullivan, explaining that the clerk who sold the alcohol had been suspended. “This is inexcusable.”

Sullivan’s attorney argued for a one-day suspension in light of the closure, which cost the store an estimated $800. Selectmen essentially granted the request and agreed to suspend the second day of the suspension, meaning the store may remain open on Oct. 3. Board members noted if any violations occur again within a two-year period the suspension will be reinstated alongside a harsher punishment for the second offense.

Selectman Chair Alan Slavin said police and board members are cracking down on liquor stores in a bid to shed the town’s reputation as a place where minors can purchase alcohol.

“I want to the public to know this is not a one-time deal,” said Slavin. “We will be cleaning this up one way or the other.”