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Alcohol sting nets 7 stores
Commission votes to crack down on underage violators
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    An undercover, underage agent for the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office entered 31 area convenience stores recently and purchased alcohol from seven of them. Sheriff's Inv. Jared Akins told Bulloch County commissioners meeting.
    After his presentation, commissioners voted unanimously to warn violators via certified letter that each business would be watched closely and a second offense would mean revocation of its alcohol license.
    Com-missioner Roy Thompson questioned whether punishment should be stronger. "Should we drive things a little deeper?" he asked, suggesting a 30-day suspension of alcohol licenses upon the first violations.
    Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson, who along with Capt. Todd Hutchens accompanied Akins to the meeting, told commissioners the compliance checks would continue. "This isn't just a one-time thing," he said. "We will be going back."
    "This is basically the first and last warning, right?" said Commissioner Walter Gibson.
    "I'd say so," Anderson said.
    County attorney Charles Brown broached the subject with commissioners, citing various recent reports in the Statesboro Herald where accidents, injuries, deaths and crimes have been linked to people under age 21 who may have been influenced by alcohol.
     The compliance check took place early this month, after the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office received numerous complaints from citizens asking where underage people were obtaining alcohol, he said.
    Brown explained how the sheriff's office employed an underage officer, wearing a video camera, who appeared to be "of high school age."  He told how Akins took the officer, referred to in sheriff's reports as "CI 98-185," to the 31 locations  where CI 98-185 tried to buy alcohol from clerks at each store.
    Undercover CI 98-185 left it's (police reports referred to the agent as " it"  in order to protect identity) driver's license with Akins during the compliance checks and was instructed not to lie about its birth date if asked.
    Out of those locations, "24 were in compliance" but seven clerks in other stores sold alcoholic beverages to CI 98-185, Brown said.
    The clerks, each charged with furnishing alcohol to underage persons, are: Pravinbhai Ramanvai Patel, 42, Burkhalter Road; Kerry M. Ricci, 22, Reddish Road, Odum; Shamica  Shantia Lambert, 28, West Grady Street; Jacob Paul Forehand, 21, Lillie Hagan Road, Brooklet.
    Also, McArendgeryah Shakila McKine, 21, Two Chop Road; Harshvadan J. Chitroda, 55, Hawthorne Court; and Alison Jaynene Maddox, 24, Meadowbrooke Way, Brooklet.
    Patel was working at Ace Stop & Go  at U.S. 80 East at Burkhalter Road when the sale took place, according to reports. Ricci was working at  Zip N Food #8 on Ga. 24; Lambert worked at Clyde's Market #74 at Veteran's Memorial Parkway and U.S. 301 North; and Forehand was working at Stilson Country Store on U.S. 80 and the Ga. 119 Connector.
    McKine was working at Neighbors #95 on Middleground Road when the sale took place, reports said. Chitroda was working at the Quick Stop on Ga. 67 near Interstate 16, and Maddox was working at the Eldora Pennysaver on Eldora Road near Ellabell (but still within Bulloch County.)
    Each clerk will appear in state court Feb. 23 on the charges, Brown said.
    None of the people charged were  store owners, but two were relatives of the owners, he said.
    He recommended commissioners send certified letters to alcohol license owners of stores where alcohol was sold to underage persons, "as a warning," and to inform the store owner that surveillance will continue and a second offense will result in "immediate revocation" of the alcohol license," regardless of who violates" the law.
     Commissioners voted unanimously to accept his recommendation.
    After the vote, Bulloch County Commission chairman Garrett Nevil said " The message is clear."

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