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Beer Permit Suspended

DYERSBURG, Tenn. -- Just days after having its license to sell beer suspended, a Tennessee convenience store operator said he would appeal the ruling.

All-in-One convenience store will continue to sell beer while its appeal of a 15-month permit suspension is pending in Dyer County Chancery Court. The Dyersburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted last week to impose a 90-day license suspension for the sale of beer to a minor during a police undercover operation in October and to impose a 12-month suspension for a sale to an underage patron during another police sting in January.

The board ruled that the suspensions are to run consecutively, in effect pronouncing a 15-month suspension, according to the Tennessee State Gazette. By state law, the suspensions could be appealed to chancery court for administrative review.

The company filed a petition with a state court Friday to have the suspensions reviewed and to stay the suspensions while the case is reviewed.

All-in-One claims in its petition that a confidential informant working for police lied about his age to a store clerk during the January transaction, constituting fraudulent entrapment; that a 38-day delay between the October transaction and All-in-One's notification by the city of the alleged infraction eliminated a possible defense, namely the store's videotape, which is kept for only about two weeks, and that the driver's license presented to the city board as evidence is not the same license displayed to the store clerk in January.

All-in-one also claims that a city attorney incorrectly advised the board that it could not consider an alternative civil penalty provided for in state statutes, but not included in the city's beer ordinance; that the beer ordinance is unconstitutional because it is ambiguous; that All-in-One's due process rights were violated because it was not allowed to confront -- or even identify -- the confidential informant; and that a preponderance of the evidence does not support the decision to suspend the permit.

The city's beer ordinance states, in part, that if any permit holder (or his agent) "sells beer to any person under the age of twenty-one years, such holder's permit shall be suspended ..." 90 days for a first offense and one year for a second offense. The code requires a license revocation for a third offense. All-0in-One is owned by Mirabile Investment Corp. J.J. McNelis, a vice president of Mirabile, is the official beer license holder for the local store.
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