The owner of Nicole's Market will have to make an appearance before the DeKalb County Beer Board next month for a revocation hearing.
The meeting will be Thursday, December 3 at 6:00 p.m. in the U.T. Extension room of the county complex.
The beer board met in special session Tuesday night on the case after discussing it during a regular monthly meeting last Thursday.
The issue is whether the store's beer license should be suspended for a period of time or revoked due to the illegal sale of alcohol to a person under the age of 21. During an undercover operation in September, a 20 year old operative working for the Sheriff's Department entered the store and allegedly bought beer from the owner of Nicole's Market, 42 year old Areceli Soto Godinez of Smithville.
Godinez appeared in DeKalb County General Sessions Court on Thursday October 29. While she pled not guilty, the case against Godinez was continued for six months after which time the citation will be dismissed provided she pays the court costs of $212 and has no further incidents of this kind. But even though the criminal citation may be dismissed, county attorney Hilton Conger told members of the beer board Tuesday night that they could still impose a civil penalty if they were to have a hearing and find that beer was illegally sold from the business. Such a hearing would require an appearance by Godinez and officers who conducted the undercover operation.
"You could give her notice of a due process hearing because this is a civil proceeding. If the board has the individual who allegedly made a buy to come and testify as to what had happened you could still take action on a revocation. Because a revocation doesn't depend upon being found guilty (in court). That's a criminal charge which requires guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This would be a civil matter. But you still have to give the permit holder a notice of revocation and conduct a hearing here as to whether the license should be suspended, revoked, or you have the option of a civil penalty of up to $2,500 when it's a sale to a minor," said Conger.
The beer board voted Tuesday night to schedule a revocation hearing for Thursday, December 3 at 6:00 p.m. to give Godinez a chance to be heard. " What we're trying to figure out is if she (Godinez) broke the law. And if she broke the law then we want to respond as a board. In fairness to her and in fairness to the board we need to have her in here. I want to hear her story. Let's hear her side of it," said Beer Board member Jim Stagi.
Members of the board also complained that they were not officially made aware of the case until they heard it in news reports on WJLE. "When somebody does get into this situation we as a board need to know. I don't think that the board liked it that we all got notified by the radio station. That's not the way things should run around here. Somebody has got to notify the board when something like this happens," said Stagi.
Godinez was among four persons cited for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor as part of an undercover investigation conducted jointly by the Sheriff's Department, Smithville Police Department, and the Alexandria Police Department.
Godinez along with 25 year old Langed Bassem Nabil Samir of the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store on Nashville Highway and 56 year old Allison Ferguson of Smithville, an employee of Mapco Express on East Broad Street, Smithville appeared in General Sessions Court Thursday, October 29.
Under negotiated settlements with the District Attorney General's Office, each case is to be dismissed provided the defendants pay their court costs and have no further incidents of this kind within a certain period of time. Ferguson's case was dismissed that day. Citations are to be dismissed after 60 days for Samir and after six months in the Godinez case.
The case against 32 year old Jennifer Sims of McMinnville, an employee of the Discount Tobacco Store on West Broad Street, Smithville across from the Dairy Queen was postponed until December 10 to give her time to hire an attorney.
The Alexandria Beer Board Tuesday night, October 27 imposed a $500 fine against the owner of the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store for the violation of the town's beer ordinance. Samir, the clerk who actually made the sale, was cited by the Alexandria Police Department after he illegally sold beer to an underage operative during an undercover investigation on September 22. Samir admitted to making the illegal sale of beer but claims he made a mistake in reading the birth date on the identification presented to him by the customer (undercover operative) who is 20 years old.
Members of the DeKalb County Beer Board are Chairman Edward Frazier, Robert Rowe, Jim Stagi, Johnny King, Frank Thomas, Leonard Dickens, and Rhonda Caplinger. All were present Tuesday night except for Frazier.