BARTLETT, TN (abc24.com) - Bartlett city leaders want to crack down on businesses who sell beer to minors. Police say it's a growing problem, and the city council wants to beef up penalties. The city prosecutor wants to hold every business owner accountable, but repeat offenders are simply not getting the message.
"We don't to sell it to kids, it’s that simple. You can't sell beer to underage kids,” said City Prosecutor David Lakin.
But six businesses did. The violators include two BP gas stations, Los Pilares Mexican restaurant, the Casa Perez convenience store, and three Circle K convenience stores. It was part of an undercover police operation in October 2012.
"Businesses sold alcohol to our informants, an 18 and a 20 year old," said Lieutenant Stones with Bartlett Police.
Circle K at 8110 Highway 64 sold beer to minors three times in the past seven years. The owner of all three Circle K locations, David Stevens, says those employees have been fired.
"We have an extensive training program and we work very hard,” said Stevens.
The board voted to suspend the license of the Circle K on Highway 64 for six months. Stevens says that's going to cost his business thousands of dollars in beer sales.
"Business owners need to be held accountable. Having a beer permit is not a right, it's a privilege,” said Alderwoman Emily Elliot.
First time offenders usually get a 15-day suspension, meaning they can't sell beer for that time. The mayor says tougher penalties need to be in place.
"We found in our investigation that there have been five other stings and those people haven't been brought before the beer board yet,” said Mayor Keith McDonald. “We hope to get their attention.”
Stevens told ABC 24 News he is working to install new equipment to check ID’s and have a new training program for employees. Next month the board will talk about changing the city's liquor ordinance to include stiffer penalties for business owners who sell to minors.