I was nearly slumbering through the round of minor decoy sting operation cases that made up most of the May 4, 2006 LC Board of Adjudication hearing when I got jolted awake by a remark even more patronizing than usual. It was during the second case, in which tiny Morihara Store in Kula was pleading no contest to a single count of selling booze—well, a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles of Smirnoff Twisted V Raspberry Malt Liquor—to an undercover LC operative.
“The department sends out a notice saying there’s going to be a sting,” board member M. D. Alborano told storeowner Hans Kanuha. “I suggest you read that.”
The Department of Liquor Control sends out warning notices that it’s conducting sting operations? Man, I thought, liquor licensees must be stupid if they get warning letters from the department and still get nailed.
But the other licensee managers and staffers waiting for their own cases to come up didn’t seem to know what Alborano was talking about.
“Did you ever see one of those,” a woman sitting next to me from another licensee asked her colleague.
“No, never,” she said.
On break, managers from still another establishment asked each other if they’d ever seen one of the notices. Each shook his head.
Later, I asked LC Deputy Director Wayne Pagan about the “notices.” He said the only notices the department sends out are the regular newsletters, which come out “three or four times a year.” They’re pretty bland, really, explaining that, “the Department will increase random stakeouts and will again use minor decoys to insure licensees are in compliance with the liquor laws.”
“The licensees should know that by now anyway,” Pagan said. He then added that the LC never publicizes the dates, times or locations of its sting operations.
Alborano has lectured licensees before on these “notices,” insinuating that the department goes out of its way to warn bars and restaurants of impending sting operations. It would be nice if someone clued her in before the next hearing.