Three La Vergne businesses faced suspension or revocation of their beer permits and civil penalties after police ran an undercover beer buy operation that resulted in the sale of alcohol to a minor working with authorities in August.
The beer permit holders for each of the businesses appeared in front of the La Vergne Beer Permit Board Tuesday night.
The permit board hearing for the businesses happened seven months after the operation because the city waits until pending criminal charges against the store clerks involved are resolved.
“We do unannounced regular checks and put people in to see if they will sell,” La Vergne Police Chief Mike Walker said. “We have had several violations in the last couple of years that we have done these.”
He continued, “We are committed to it and we are going to continue to do it.”
Two of the locations are facing second offense violations.
Tobacco Brew and Chew located at 5104 Murfreesboro Road, which was cited twice within three weeks, was handed a 45 day beer permit suspension or a $2,500 fine.
The Tiger Market at 104 Fergus Market has also been cited once before. The citation will be the store's second, but will be the first for the current permit holder. Tiger Market's ownership group was fined $1,000.
Tina's Asian Market, located at 3016 Nir Shreibman, was cited with its first offense. Owner Tina Chanthavone handed over her beer permit.
Police said all of the undercover transactions were caught on video.
George Rezk, who owns the Tobacco Brew and Chew with his brother Fady Rezk, said he sold to an undercover minor twice because he got confused during the peak of a busy night.
“I was confused on her age and when I asked her how [old] she was, she would not tell me,” he said. “When I ask her how old she is she should have told me.”
Police said that it is the clerk's responsibility to determine if the customer is of age when presented their ID.
Rezk said he does not make a business of selling alcohol to minors, though he told News 2 minors regularly try to convince him to sell them alcohol.
“They ask me to buy a case of beer and it is maybe $10,” he said. “They offer me $40 and I tell them no.”
The offer of $40 for a case of beer sounds like a set up Metro police said they found inside the Stop and Shop Tobacco and Beer store on White Bridge Road.
Teenagers would offer $40 for a case of beer and that would be the code for the store clerk to sell beer to the teens.
A hidden camera operation by Metro police and the Nashville Prevention Partnership uncovered the operation and netted four underage beer buys in one evening.
One of those included a student who came into the store not knowing it was under surveillance by Metro police.
That student was subsequently charged in connection with purchasing beer.
Metro's Beer Permit board subsequently revoked the business' beer permit in February.
The store is now closed.
Rezk said after this case is settled he will stop selling beer all together.
“Very soon I am going to shut down this section,” he said. “I am going to change to international food. I don't want any beer.”