LBPD cracks down on alcohol sales to minors

'Project 21' uses undercover agent to help police


Long Beach police are cracking down on businesses that sell alcoholic beverages to minors, an effort that resulted in police issuing a number of appearance tickets in January, including one to a store clerk at a CVS.

The effort is part of an undercover operation that the Long Beach Police Department calls “Project 21,” an informal name for one of several joint efforts between the department and Long Beach Medical Center’s Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking.

“We send in an underage agent to purchase alcohol, and then we issue a summons and send a referral to the New York State Liquor Authority,” said Lt. Eric Cregeen, a spokesman for the department who was involved in the operation.

One of those sales was made on Jan. 17 at the Friendly Deli on West Beech Street. According to police, the 20-year-old agent, whose name was not released, purchased a six-pack of beer from the store clerk, 50-year-old Song Woong Ho. Ho was issued a summons for violating the ABC Code 65-1, which prohibits the sale of an alcoholic beverage to an individual under the age of 21.

Also on Jan. 17, police said that the agent was able to purchase beer from store clerk Tulsidai Ramdayal, 58, at the Alabama Deli on West Beech Street. According to police, Ramdayal was also issued a summons for serving an alcoholic beverage to a minor.

And on Jan. 24, police issued a summons to Gail Gillespie, 43, a store clerk at CVS on West Park Avenue, where the undercover agent also purchased a six-pack of beer.

“CVS was a little bit of a surprise, but the Alabama Deli has had this happen before and there has to be ongoing training [for business-owners] while fusing evidence-based approaches,” said Judi Vining, the coalition’s coordinator.

Statistics show that underage alcohol use in Long Beach remains much higher than the state average of 26.9 percent, with binge drinking more prevalent in Long Beach than in Nassau County as a whole and New York state. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Vining said that alcohol abuse among young people and adults could potentially increase.

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