Hatfield Market rapped for underage alcohol sale

Hatfield Town Hall

Hatfield Town Hall

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 06-13-2024 1:58 PM

HATFIELD — Management at a Hatfield store that sold alcohol to an underage person during a police sting last month is being advised by town officials that continued violations of state law, and lack of steps to curtail them, could lead to enforcement by the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

The May 1 violation, in which police sent an underage person into Hatfield Market on School Street, was the second within five years at the establishment, raising concerns for public safety, Police Chief Michael Dekoschak told the Select Board on Tuesday.

“We don’t tolerate selling alcohol to minors, and there are no excuses for it,” Dekoschak said.

Dekoschak explained that the department conducts periodic alcohol compliance checks, using minors whose goal is to procure alcohol from a store without having to present an ID. The May 1 incident was one of two such compliance checks done in 2024, and marked the second violation for the store, Dekoschak said. The previous incident took place May 30, 2019.

The town is handling the matter initially with warnings and education. It will be up to the Select Board to decide if ABCC should get involved and a suspension of the license may be in order.

Chairwoman Diana Szynal said the recent offense and the one from almost five years ago are unacceptable. “Obviously we take this seriously, too,” Szynal said.

More signs and more training may be necessary so clerks are more diligent about carding everyone and stop selling alochol to minors, Dekoschak said. “We don’t want to hurt any business, but we also want to protect our citizens,” he said.

While not present Tuesday, the Hatfield Market owner at a May 28 meeting defended his practices when apprised of the violation.

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Shahid Habib told the Select Board he was unaware of what happened and has in place a payment system that, when an item that requires an ID to be scanned for sale, such as alcohol and tobacco products, the employee is required to check and then scan an ID to continue the sale.

“I did whatever I could to prevent this from happening from my time at Hatfield Market the last few years,” he said.

Habib said that the clerk called and informed him that a minor had apparently succeeded in procuring alcohol.

“I’m not sure who’s right and who’s not,” Habib said. “It’s a new clerk, I can’t tell if he’s telling me correct (information) or not.”

But Habib suggested that an error is unlikely to be made.

“My clerks, my employees, they know they cannot sell to minors, they will be in trouble, which I think is a good thing because that way they are scared, and if they want to sell it to their friends, they can’t,” Habib said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.