Southold shops tested in underage drinking sting

Nearly every retail establishment within Southold Town passed an underage drinking enforcement operation in January.

The sting, conducted by the New York State Police barracks in Riverside, involved undercover police personnel under the age of 21 attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages. Employees of 11 retail establishments complied with the law preventing the sale of alcohol to a minor and passed the inspection. Those locations are BP Okan Grocery, Gulf Mini Mart, NOFO Beer and Smoke and Rich Harvest Wine and Liquors in Mattituck; BP in Peconic; 7-Eleven and Peconic Liquors in Cutchogue; Bogey’s Bottled Goods, Gulf Mini Mart of Main Road, Gulf Mini Mart of Youngs Lane and 7-Eleven in Southold. 

To shop owners like Rich Lazzara of Rich Harvest Wine and Liquors, these surprise inspections are “a necessity.”

“I make sure I proof everyone who even looks close to being underage,” he said. “The older I get, the younger everybody looks, so that’s more and more people. I honestly have never insulted anyone by asking for their ID. If they really are over age, they usually receive it as a compliment.”

Showcase Wine and Liquor in Southold was the only shop that failed the inspection operation. Clerk Jatinder Singh of Bellerose was charged with first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child for providing alcohol to a person under the age of 21. Mr. Singh was issued a citation and ordered to appear at Southold Town Justice Court on Feb. 16, according to a representative of the New York State Police.

Police confirmed that Showcase Wine and Liquor failed a similar underage drinking sting, in July 2020. They said all such stings are conducted spontaneously and do not target any specific retailers.