Second sting failure draws Mr. Phipps license suspension

liquor shelf

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The owner of the Mr. Phipps package store on North Elm Street “did not dispute the facts” at a hearing before the city’s License Commission pertaining to allegations filed by the Westfield Police Departments that the store failed a second alcohol compliance sting this year.

Attorney Benjamin M. Boyle, of the Bacon & Wilson law firm, said his client, George Phillips “does not want to be back here” again to answer to another violation of state law prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons under the age of 21 and that he would continue to work with his staff to prevent a future reoccurrence.

The Community Policing unit of the WPD conducted a sting operation consistent with guidelines set by the License Commission and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) on Sept. 11 with volunteers under the age of 21 who were instructed to provide their drivers’ license if asked by the staff of a business licensed to serve alcohol.

A 46-year-old part-time employee, who is also a school teacher and TIPS (Training for Intervention Preventions), trained had, according to Boyle, “a lapse in judgment.” Employment was terminated under policies established after the last violation.
“My client stresses how important it is for the staff to be vigilant,” Boyle said.

Commissioners Alice Dawicki and Edward Diaz suggested several steps Phillips could take to modify the policies and procedures under which his staff works, including speaking with other package store owners who have a good sting history and who have put procedures put into place to prevent sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 21.

“Why do you think this is happening after going so long (without a sting violation?)” Dawicki asked Phillips.

Dawicki said that another package store owner has instituted a policy of hiring third party, a “mystery buyer” agency to perform internal compliance checks to ensure that staff members are asking for identification.

Mr. Phipps staff also failed a compliance sting last March and one in August of 2013. The commission suspended the package store license for six days as a result of the March sting failure, but held that suspension in abeyance for six months.

The September sting failure fell within the six month probationary period. The commission voted to suspend the package store license for the six days, selecting December 14 and 15, Dec. 21 and 22, and Dec. 28 and 29 as the days to be served.

The License Commission also imposed an additional nine-day suspension to be held in abeyance for six months. Another sting violation by either the WPD or ABCC within the next six months would trigger implementation of the nine-day suspension.

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Media Credit: The Westfield News

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