An employee at Sona Thirteen, a Morristown bar named earlier this year in a state investigation, has been accused of selling alcohol to a teenager.
Derrick Thomas, 45, of Morris Township, was charged by an undercover agent from the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Detective Chris Wenger, for an alleged violation late on Sept. 5, 2013.
Five 18-year-olds–four females and a male– from Staten Island, NY, also were charged with purchasing alcohol while under the legal age, said Zach Hosseini, a spokesman for the state Division of Criminal Justice.
Derrick is scheduled to answer his charge, which is classified as a misdemeanor, in municipal court next month. A conviction for serving under-aged persons, as a first offense, can result in a 15-day liquor license suspension for a bar, said the spokesman.
In May, the South Street bar was among 29 establishments from across the state accused of scamming customers by charging premium prices for cheap liquor, in a probe dubbed “Operation Swill.”
That investigation is ongoing, and will not be impacted by the new complaint, said the state spokesman. The TGI Fridays chain agreed in July to pay $500,000 in fines to settle Operation Swill charges against several of its restaurants.
According to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Handbook, a bar employee accused of serving under-aged individuals can be cleared if all of the following conditions are present:
- The purchaser falsely represented his or her age by producing a photo driver’s license of any state; or an identification card issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission or an official photo identification card issued by any state or the federal government;
- The purchaser falsely represented in writing that he or she was of legal age to make the purchase;
- The purchaser appeared to be 21 years of age or older;
- The purchaser appeared to be the person described in the about proof of age [sic].
Derrick Thomas could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Billy Walsh said he no longer is an owner of Sona Thirteen and referred questions to David Gsell, who also could not be reached on Thursday.
In an unrelated case, Golderes Wine and Liquors on Morris Street in Morristown is contesting a state charge that it sold alcohol to a 20-year-old woman last November, Zach Hosseini said.