Sting It On

What happened to LC Watch? It’s a question we’ve been asked frequently since June, the last time this column ran. The answer is another question: what happened to the LC?

Over the last three months, the Adjudication Board—the arm of the department charged with doling out punishment—considered just one new case. Sure, there were rumblings from bar owners and a little action over at the Liquor Control Commission, but all in all it was a quiet summer for our favorite county agency.

Things got a little more interesting at the October 7 Adjudication meeting, which featured three cases, all minor decoy stings. For those new to the party, that means the LC, in conjunction with MPD, sends an underage kid into a liquor-selling establishment with a marked $20 bill to try to buy booze.

The three busts presented at the meeting all took place over a three-week period in June. The first and last cases—involving Izakaya Matsu in Kihei and Kobe Steak House in Lahaina—were pretty standard fare, but the other one was a bit of a head-scratcher.

On June 4 at about 8pm, a pair of minor decoys—an 18-year-old male and 19-year-old female—entered Rodeo General Store in Makawao. The male approached the cashier first, with a six-pack of Corona, and presented his ID when asked. The clerk checked the ID “for approximately four seconds” according to Deputy Prosecutor John Tam and sold the decoy the beer. Moments later, the female approached the cashier with a six-pack of Bud Light and went through the exact same routine. That’s when LC officers James Loy and Lorne Awai stepped in.

Owner Darren Jones told the board the employee was one of his most reliable, and expressed disbelief that she’d failed not once, but twice to see the clearly printed “under 21” banners on the IDs. Board Chair Donald Fujii asked Director Frank Silva how often two decoys are sent in, and Silva confirmed it’s a rare occurrence, though he clarified that it’s treated as just one incident.

That was the only good news for Rodeo General, which escaped with a $2,000 fine, $1,000 suspended.