A local business owner this week accused the Reading Police Department of using a youth with a criminal record to perform this year’s round of underage alcohol sales compliance checks.
Robert. H. Carp, owner of The Wine Shop of Reading, made the accusation at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, which the board had asked each of the town’s liquor license holders to attend.
“This person would have every incentive to lie. He’s trying to lower his sentence,” Carp said. “If he brings some violations, it makes him look like he’s earned his keep.”
In a statement released Wednesday, the Reading Police Department called the accusations “baseless.”
“We have done a number of these stings and check our operative prior to each operation,” said Sgt. Detective Mark Segalla. “We have never used an operative who has a criminal history and have never promised any operative consideration for their assistance.”
During the meeting, Selectman James Bonazoli said that the town doesn’t want to catch its bars and restaurants serving alcohol to minors.
“It’s a black eye to you, and it’s a black eye to us,” he said.
Why they were there
The board asked all of the town’s liquor license holders to appear before the board due to Reading’s current concern for substance abuse among youths.
In addition to the high profile cases of Joe Ronan, Christopher Fischer and Quinlan Junta, five of Reading’s establishments failed their underage service sting in 2011 after two consecutive years with zero violations.
“If we can’t count on our establishments to hold the front line we have some cracks in our wall and it’s all starting to fall apart here,” Bonazoli said.
Bonazoli asked the license holders to work more closely with law enforcement.
Selectman Steve Goldy also noted that, in light of the current atmosphere, the board has been under pressure from the community to be less lenient with violators.