Three establishments will face the Maui County Liquor Adjudication Board on Mar. 6. All three are up on the same charge: serving alcohol to a minor in a sting operation.
But one—Kala Mart, a small liquor store in Kihei—nearly missed out on all the festivities. That’s because owner Frank Wanca says he personally didn’t find out that he was up on charges of serving a minor until a few weeks ago, even though the actual sting operation went down on June 28, 2007.
According to Wanca—who’s pleading no contest to the single count against him—here’s what happened: the guy Wanca hired to work the store on the night in question got stung, but then like a guilty student who failed a test at school, kept it to himself.
“I thought he was a great employee,” Wanca said. “But he never told me he got a summons.”
This meant that for the rest of 2007, Wanca insists he had no idea that he’d been busted. This was time he could have spent planning a defense, but instead, he spent it just watching his business as though nothing had happened.
What’s more, Wanca says that he visited the county Liquor Control offices after the sting operation on some unrelated business, and got some strange looks from the staff. “They looked at me funny,” Wanca said, “but never said anything to me.”
Then in January, seven months after the sting, Wanca says he finally found out that he had a serving-a-minor charge hanging over him. And that’s when he says he fired the employee who’d gotten stung.
Wanca will doubtless tell all this to the Adjudication Board on Mar. 6. They tend to take a hard line on managers duped by their employees, but you never can tell.