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Wine Shops and 7-Elevens Among Stores Busted for Underage Alcohol Sales

By Andrea Swalec | March 5, 2013 3:23pm | Updated on March 5, 2013 6:58pm
 Ninth liquor stores and bodegas citywide were caught in late Feb. and early March 2013 selling alcohol to minors.
Ninth liquor stores and bodegas citywide were caught in late Feb. and early March 2013 selling alcohol to minors.
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MANHATTAN — Their wine selection was unparalleled — and their customers were allegedly underage.

The posh Hudson Street wine shop Sea Grape was among 90 businesses recently busted for selling alcohol to minors in an undercover sting by the State Liquor Authority, the agency said Tuesday.

Workers at each of the locations allegedly sold alcohol to underage decoys during a nine-day investigation between Feb. 21 and March 3, according to a press release from the SLA. 

But Sea Grape general manager Cristiano Andrade said the business had not been notified of any alleged wrongdoing as of Tuesday.

"Anyone who looks under 25, we ID, especially with NYU so close," he said.

Businesses charged with selling booze to minors face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per incident, with fines starting at $2,500 for a first-time offense. Repeat offenders can have their licenses revoked. The SLA said offenders will receive information about the charges by mail.

The sting also ensnared two 7-Eleven stores, including one on Eighth Avenue near West 29th Street and another at 557 Grand Concourse in the Bronx, as well as Delauren Wines & Liquors at 332 Eighth Ave. near West 27th Street, the SLA said.

A spokeswoman for 7-Eleven said the company takes illegal sales of age-restricted products seriously and has trained staff on the matter since 1984. 

Delauren did not immediately return a request for comment on the bust.

The full list of businesses the SLA says sold to youth is available on the agency's website.

Underage SLA volunteer booze buyers entered a total of 201 liquor and grocery stores citywide, and attempted to buy alcohol to see if the stores would check their ID.

Investigators had the highest success rate of buying alcohol without being carded in Staten Island, where 6 out of 6 volunteers were able to make alcohol purchases.

In the Bronx, 21 out of 35 youth were sold alcohol. In Brooklyn, 20 out of 34 youth were sold booze, and in Manhattan 29 out of 84 youth succeeded.

Queens was the toughest of the boroughs on would-be booze buyers, with just 14 out of 42 youth allowed to purchase alcohol.

SLA chairman Dennis Rosen said preventing the sale of alcohol to minors is a statewide priority.

"These large-scale enforcement efforts will continue to be a part of our proactive measures to prevent alcohol abuse among our youth," he said in a statement.