Despite being warned of increased enforcement, including possible undercover operations, two package stores and six restaurants in Mansfield were caught selling alcoholic beverages to two underage males in late June, local police said this week.
“I was very surprised and very disappointed at the same time, especially after notifications went out,” said Mansfield police Detective Sergeant Larry Crosman, who headed the investigation.
Crosman said the problem of underage drinking at the Comcast Center, located in the town, has been of paramount concern to local authorities, particularly since the death of a 19-year-old in June 2012 from a combination of drugs and alcohol. Selectmen earlier this year praised the progress that Live Nation, which manages the concert venue, and the town’s emergency responders have made in dealing with drugs and alcohol incidents during events at the center.
“We wanted people to realize that this is something we take seriously, not just at the Comcast Center but throughout the town,” Crosman said.
He said that about two weeks before the June operation, the 36 stores and restaurants that are open and selling alcoholic beverages in the town were notified by Chief of Police Ronald A. Sellon that the town takes the matter of underage drinking very seriously and that there would be increased enforcement. The mailing from Sellon also stated that undercover officers could be carrying out sting operations, Crosman said.
The detective said two 20-year-old males went to the local establishments on June 20 and June 25, and in view of undercover police officers asked to be served alcohol. They were not permitted to lie about their age or produce false identification.
“The two kids were shocked at how easy it was to be served alcohol,” Crosman said, adding that some establishments didn’t even ask for identification. But he said he was pleased that “in some places they couldn’t even get . . . on the stool before they were asked for an ID.”
The two package stores that allegedly sold alcohol to the underage men are the Store, at 213 South Main St., and Cork’s, at 390 West St.
The six restaurants are Asia Grill & Suishi, 287 School St.; Cibo Matto Caffe, 254 Chauncy St.; Casey O’Connor’s, 219 North Main St.; Mansfield Veterans of Foreign Wars on Chilson Avenue; Geno’s Restaurant and Lounge, 407 N. Main St.; and Chipotle Mexican Grill, 287 School St.
As the local licensing authority, Mansfield’s Board of Selectmen will set up public hearings to determine what action to take in response to the results of the operation, said Town Manager William R. Ross.
He said selectmen can issue reprimands, fines, suspensions, and revocations of license. Those decisions can be appealed to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
“I don’t think there will be any revocations because there haven’t been a lot of suspensions,” Ross said, adding that Wednesday was the first opportunity selectmen had to consider the matter.
“It takes time to put together all the information and the report,” Ross said.
Chandra Allard, spokeswoman for the state Treasurer’s Office, which oversees the ABCC, said the agency can uphold, reject, or amend local decisions.
For first offenses, businesses are sometimes given the option of paying fines in lieu of shutting down operations, Allard said.
Elaine Cushman Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.