ALBERTSONS CLERK ARRESTED IN SWEEP.
By Dennis J. Carroll
For The New Mexican
An Albertsons supermarket liquor clerk has been arrested and the store at 3542 Zafarano St. issued an administrative citation for allegedly selling liquor to a minor during a police sweep of Santa Fe area stores and restaurants.
Peter Olson, spokesman for the special investigation division of the state Department of Public Safety, said plainclothes officers from the Santa Fe Police Department and the Public Safety Department checked 21 restaurants and package-liquor stores Thursday evening. The only arrest was at Albertsons, Olson said.
Arrested was clerk James Varela, 45, no address listed. He was booked into Santa Fe County jail and later released on $5,000 cash bond, according to jail Web site records. Selling or giving alcoholic beverages to minors became a fourth-degree felony in 2004 and is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
Sgt. Juan Griego of the DPS investigations unit said this was believed to be store's first offense, but operators can face a fine of up to $3,000 and suspension of the liquor license for three to seven days.
The case against the store is automatically subject to the review of an administrative law judge in the state Alcohol and Gaming Department.
No one was available at Albertsons on Friday evening who could comment on the charges.
Olson said the Albertsons check was conducted by Santa Fe police officers with the help of two female minors who sought to purchase the liquor from Varela.
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