UPDATE: Walmart Faces Suspension of Liquor License After Clerk Allegedly Sells Alcohol to Minor

The Oak Park Heights Police Chief will ask the City Council tonight to impose a $1,000 fine and a five-day suspension of Walmart’s liquor license after an employee allegedly sold alcohol to underage person for the second time in two years.

The Oak Park Heights City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved Police Chief Brian DeRosier's request to impose a $1,000 fine and a five-day suspension of Wal-Mart’s liquor license after an employee allegedly sold alcohol to underage person.

Walmart has the right to a hearing to show cause, according to the city’s alcohol ordinance. If Walmart chooses to go that route, the hearing would take place during the Feb. 12 City Council meeting.

On Nov. 23, the Oak Park Heights Police Department investigated and revealed a sale of alcohol to a minor, DeRosier wrote in a memo to the City Council.

“This sale was not part of any police compliance checks,” DeRosier wrote. “The investigation was in response to complaint received by officers on duty of possible under 21 persons trying to purchase alcohol at another location and having been refused.”

Police later located the suspects at Walmart after they had just purchased alcohol, DeRosier wrote.

Marjorie Elizabeth Cogger, 63, of Stillwater was charged with a gross misdemeanor, DeRosier told the Pioneer Press, after she allegedly sold a 24-pack of Bud Light, a 12-pack of Rolling Rock and a bottle of Jagermeister to an 18-year-old West Lakeland Township man who had a fake ID at the time of the sale.

The teen was cited for possession of a fake ID and possession of alcohol by a minor, both misdemeanors, DeRosier told the Pioneer Press.

“No attempt was made by the sales clerk to verify the age of the person with any form of identification,” the memo reads.

The police chief is asking the council to also impose a $1,000 sanction and five-day suspension of all alcohol sales at Wal-Mart starting on Jan. 28 and ending at the start of normal business on Feb. 2.

The Superbowl is slated for Sunday, Feb. 3

This is Walmart’s second alcohol violation in two years, the chief wrote. The prior violation occurred on Dec. 21, 2010.

Walmart has the right to a hearing to show cause, according to the city’s alcohol ordinance. The hearing would take place at 7 p.m. during the Feb. 12 City Council meeting.

yomammy January 08, 2013 at 08:21 PM
two time in two YEARS?!?!?! THERE IS NO GOD!!!!!!!!
HHF34 January 08, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Two times in two years, for the sheer volume of people/sales that they have and asking for this kind of fine/suspension is a bit over the top... One wasn't a "Compliance check" but the other likely was. I've been working during these so-called "Compliance checks", they're the next thing to entrapment even though I had a habit of also carding 40+yo customers. I have no problem with them being given a fine if the evidence proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is where the kids got the liquor, but the suspension of the license is over the top for a second offense in the span of two years.
Randy Marsh January 08, 2013 at 10:12 PM
It's official, the terrorists have won. DeRosier should be reassigned for even making such an absurd recommendation.
Randy Marsh January 09, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Perhaps Walmart should sell marijuana instead. I can't believe the penalties for doing so would be worse than this.
Laurie Helgason January 09, 2013 at 06:35 AM
I support Police Chief DeRosier's decision. The law is clear that ID checks have to be part of the sales and I approve of the enforcement of the law because it helps in keeping underage boys and girls from purchasing alcohol. For five days, I believe people in need of alcohol can find another store to shop. And I prefer reading an article about Walmart illegally selling alcohol than a drunk teen driver's death.
DJR January 09, 2013 at 07:27 AM
“No attempt was made by the sales clerk to verify the age of the person with any form of identification,” the memo reads. she allegedly sold a 24-pack of Bud Light, a 12-pack of Rolling Rock and a bottle of Jagermeister to an 18-year-old West Lakeland Township man who used a fake ID at the time of the sale. WHICH IS IT? THE MEMO SAYS SHE MADE NO ATTEMPT TO VERIFY THE AGE. HOWEVER THEY SAY HE USED A FAKE ID AT THE TIME OF THE SALE. THE STORY, OR POLICE REPORT FOR THAT MATTER, CONFLICTS ITSELF.
Randy Marsh January 09, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Why don't you cut off the hands of the clerk that participated in this plot, Laurie? Shouldn't the punishment fit the crime here? A $1,000 fine is plenty of punishment and forcing them to close for five days is way overboard.
Christine Thole January 09, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Does anyone else think that it is crazy that If in fact she did card him she still faces a gross misdemeanor? Whereas he for his actions gets off with a lesser charge being only a misdemeanor for each action. Perhaps they should throw her in a Turkish prison while he does his community hours.........
Mark Luebker January 09, 2013 at 02:35 PM
I'm trying to figure out how both of these assertions can be true: 1. “No attempt was made by the sales clerk to verify the age of the person with any form of identification." 2. "Marjorie Elizabeth Cogger...allegedly sold a 24-pack of Bud Light, a 12-pack of Rolling Rock and a bottle of Jagermeister to an 18-year-old West Lakeland Township man who used a fake ID at the time of the sale." That sounds to me like she DID card the kid.
Shawn Hogendorf January 09, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Hi Mark. It appears, according to what the sales clerk told police, she did not card the kid because she thought he was a regular, but police later found a fake ID on his person.
Gloria Keller January 09, 2013 at 04:40 PM
For $8.00 an hour, people should be able to spot a fake ID ? Really?
Scott in Wisconsin January 09, 2013 at 05:18 PM
You don't have to prove that an ID is real or fake but you do have to verify one it appears from reading the article this was'nt done. If this is true Wal Mart should be fined and suspended. It's a simple rule to follow and the management needs to drill it into every employee continuously. You don't have to ID every customer but it's very easy to tell who needs to be checked and who does'nt. As far as the compliance checks they are a complete joke, always done on the same night and after the first location gets checked the phone chain begins and every bar and liquor store knows it's coming.
Mark Luebker January 09, 2013 at 05:35 PM
I wondered if that might be the case, Shawn. But originally the article didn't say it was found on his person, it said he USED it "at the time of the sale." (I cut and pasted that in my earlier comment, but it appears you or someone has since updated the article here.) I'm inferring from your comment above that the police report says Ms. Cogger didn't card the kid, but is that what she says as well?
Mark Luebker January 09, 2013 at 05:39 PM
@Scott in Wisconsin: The language in the article has changed since it originally was posted. Previously it said, "...an 18-year-old West Lakeland Township man who used a fake ID at the time of the sale." Now it says. "...an 18-year-old West Lakeland Township man who had a fake ID at the time of the sale." Swapping out that one word significantly changes the meaning of what many of us responded to.
Shawn Hogendorf January 09, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Correct, Mark. Because you copied the previous text (it was there for context to this discussion) I updated the article for clarity. The police report says she told police she didn't card the kid, because she thought she recognized him as being legal age to purchase alcohol. I haven't spoken with her.
Shawn Hogendorf January 09, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Mark is correct. One word definitely changes the context of this. My apologies for the confusion. The original language, which started the discussion, is copied and pasted into Mark's previous post.
HHF34 January 09, 2013 at 10:50 PM
So, if the person working looked at the ID but didn't distinguish that it was a "fake ID" or do a "what's your DOB?" while they weren't looking at the card (i.e. harassment of the customer which would get her fired) - just exactly HOW can you verify the DOB if you don't know that the ID is fake?? The 18yo who purchased the liquor under false pretense is who is to blame, not the person who missed the fake ID.
Shawn Hogendorf January 09, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Last night the police chief noted to the city council that the clerk didn't look at the fake ID, and further, she entered her own DOB into the register to get it to open for the sale.
Susan January 10, 2013 at 12:57 AM
In my opinion, the employee should have to pay the $1,000 fine and probably lose her job. If they have to enter a birth date for every transaction and they are substituting their own birth date, they are violating the store's policy. I can't even imagine how much it will cost the store to close for five days, but I think that would be an unwarranted punishment for the store as it is the employee, and not the store policies, that created this violation. Also, two violations in over 700 days is NOT excessive and they should actually be commended for having such a low rate of sales to minors.
Chris Barnes January 10, 2013 at 05:26 AM
@susan, the employee gets a fine of their own and usually have to take a bunch of BS classes that are almost worse than any fine. That being said I some what agree with you;however, when I was 18 I became a regular at many places to make sure that I never got carded. I wouldn't be surprised if she had seen that fake ID a bunch of times not knowing that it was a fake and didn't card him for that reason. If I got carded every time I bought beer at the same place for the thousandth time it would get damn annoying. That being said, who knows of that's the case, and you're totally right that two violation in two years is not an epidemic! As much as I don't care for that place they should be left alone, especially considering the sheer volume that they put out. Good thing that they're not in downtown stillwater or they'd be closed.
yomammy January 10, 2013 at 01:01 PM
what susan said. they probably enter their own date on people that are quite obvious over 21--you gonna make granny dig out a ID... really? but i highly doubt this person looked over 21. Its tough though...the older i get, the younger everyone else looks... :(
Susan January 10, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Chris, if it is store policy to check everyone who looks under 40 (I think that's it, but not sure), then the employees should do it, every time! This example is exactly why they should do it. Unless you are hitting the liquor store every day, and/or are an angry person, the ten seconds it takes to pull out your ID should not be an annoyance, and the vast majority of people understand that this is required to buy alcohol. In regards to not knowing an ID is fake; that is somewhat the store's responsibility as the training is either inadequate or they should invest in those sliders/scanners that you slide the ID through. Walmart certainly can afford the technology!
Mark Luebker January 10, 2013 at 04:13 PM
I think it's pretty clear the clerk screwed up. Where I live, I get carded at the grocery store every time I pick up a six-pack of Grain Belt Nordeast or Guinness Black Lager, even though my beard is pretty much all white these days. And that includes by a clerk whose day job is in my office! That said, the punishment should fit the crime, and presumably how Walmart dealt with the employee who made the last mistake would be the model for how they deal with this one. As far as prosecuting or fining the clerk, for someone making a living at Walmart (and who likely will lose her job as a consequence of this), that strikes me a little draconian. And for that matter, so does the suspended license for Walmart for two violations in two years. Seems like fairness would dictate them paying the fine as a way to remind them they need to do a better job of training and monitoring their employees and how they carry out their duties.
Susan January 10, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Mark, I agree with you in regards to Walmart not paying their employees a living wage (I recently wrote about this on another Patch thread), but here is the problem; Walmart would (probably) not be in this position if the employee had followed procedure. She violated the policy specifically designed to stop this sort of thing. She (along with the bratty minor) are to blame here and the punishment should be applied accordingly.
woodtick February 24, 2013 at 05:38 PM
WOW!! After reading all of these highly intelligent responses, I can only conclude that some of you who support the cashier and wal-mart for their lack of responsibility, must have broken the law many times during your youth and never got caught! I wonder what you would write if the 18 yr old would have had an accident and killed another person?? I bet you people ride the fence your whole life instead of staying true to legal and illeagal, right and wrong? P.S. For you crusaders, this has nothing to do with the 2nd amendment folks, so don't try to take my guns away..Thank you.
Randy Marsh February 24, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Woodtick, the charges would change dramatically if the person(s) purchasing the alcohol would have caused a crash or killed another person. As it stands, the penalty for this violation is completely out of line. I don't support the cashier and don't' shop at Walmart, but I'm a big fan of common sense.


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