Michael Halfacre submitted his resignation as Director of the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control to Acting Attorney General John Hoffman yesterday, effective June 30,2015.
Under Halfacre’s leadership since March of 2012, the ABC is credited with cracking down on underage drinking, the sale of alcohol to the already intoxicated, and penalizing establishments that were scamming consumers by “drink substitution,” i.e. charging customers for the “top shelf” drinks they ordered while actually serving cheaper booze.
During Halfacre’s tenure, new laws were implemented for the brewing and distilling industry which have lead to an emerging micro brewing industry. Additionally, new rules were written to regulate the direct sale of wine to consumers by out-of-state wineries.
Martell’s Tiki Bar, the popular Pt. Pleasant Beach adult playground, was fined $500,000 and will have its license to serve alcohol suspended for thirty days this fall for over-serving vodka to a female patron who caused a car crash in Old Bridge that killed her and severely injured another woman, according to a settlement with the Division of Alcohol Beverage Control announced by Acting Attorney General John Hoffman.
Ashley Sara Chieco of Wood-Ridge, then 26 years old, drank vodka at Martell’s from 11:07 am on August 16, 2013 until an hour or so before the 6 pm accident in which she was driving the wrong way on Route 18. Chieco was killed and Dana Corrar, then 55, of Old Bridge was severely injured. Chieco left Martell’s in an SUV that did not belong to her, but looked similar to her own vehicle. Her blood alcohol level when she died was .189, more than double the legal limit of .08, according a NJ.com report of incident.
Trenton- Alcohol Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre announced charges against two Jersey Shore area drinking establishments today.
Forked River House of Lacey Township is charged with serving alcohol to actually or apparently intoxicated individuals on six occasions between August of 2012 and March of 2013. In each occasion, the patrons were arrested for driving while intoxicated after leaving the establishment. Their blood alcohol concentration ranged from .15% to .21%. In New Jersey, a person is guilty of drunk driving if their blood alcohol concentration is .08% or greater.
Porta, the Asbury Park pizza restaurant is charged with serving alcohol to two underage women during the summer of 2012. Undercover investigators arrested two 20 year old women for underage drinking on June 9, 2012. A month later investigators arrested a third 20 woman for underage drinking at Porta.
The segment was bumped by the Short Hills Mall shooting story. It is now rescheduled for Tuesday between 7:30am and 8am.
Tune into NBC Monday morning between 7:30 and 8 or set your DVR to catch some familiar faces, including your favorite blogger, demonstrating the dangers for drinking too much during the holiday season, or anytime, especially if you plan to drive.
-Briad Group Will Employ Compliance Officer and Update Employee Training and Inventory Software –
photo via facebook
TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Director Michael Halfacre today announced that the Briad Group, a franchisee of the T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants in New Jersey raided in May as part of “Operation Swill,” will pay a fine of $500,000 and not contest charges that eight of its restaurants were serving customers alcoholic beverages other than what they ordered.
“Briad’s restaurants were scamming customers by serving them a cheap substitute for what they ordered,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “This unlawful practice took advantage of consumers who were cheated out of what they thought they were purchasing. This fine should send a clear message to every bar and restaurant throughout New Jersey that customers should get what they pay for every time without exception.”
ABC and Division of Criminal Justice Investigators raided 13 T.G.I. Friday’s owned by Briad during “Operation Swill” and seized approximately 250 bottles of spirits from those locations. Eight of those establishments were charged and included in the settlement. Those locations were in West Orange, East Windsor, Old Bridge, Piscataway, Freehold, Marlboro, Hazlet and Linden.
As part of the settlement, Briad will employ an ABC-appointed monitor through June 30, 2014. The compliance officer will have the full cooperation of Briad’s restaurants and its employees as well as access to all books, records, compensation programs and any other information the monitor deems appropriate. The compliance officer will then report his findings to the ABC. In addition, Briad will make internal changes that include updating employee training and inventory software.
-Spicy Cantina & Mexican Grill Fined $15,000 and Will Ban ‘Deena’ for Two Years -
TRENTON – The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control today announced a settlement with the owners of Spicy Cantina & Mexican Grill in Seaside Heights in connection with a June 10 incident involving the television show “The Jersey Shore” and cast member Deena Cortese, who was served alcohol at the establishment while visibly intoxicated.
As part of the settlement, Spicy will be fined $15,000 and Cortese, a New Egypt native, will be banned from the restaurant for two years as part of a special condition on the alcohol license, owned by AFW 500 LLC. Also, Spicy faces a 10-day suspension of their license should they violate the ABC’s laws in the next two years.
“This settlement is a cautionary tale for licensees who might think ignoring the law for the sake of airtime is good for business,” said Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre. “By turning a blind eye to the mayhem that can be associated with reality television, you are risking your livelihood. That is, without a doubt, bad for business.”
TRENTON – With just two weekends left in the unofficial summer season, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control is warning underage drinkers and those who would help them get alcohol to think twice before they try to buy liquor.
That’s because both local law enforcement and ABC investigators have made more than 200 arrests at the Shore this summer.
“We are going to be relentless in our efforts to combat underage drinking,” said Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre. “We are placing a spotlight on everyone involved in this: from the underage person who tries to buy, to the adult who agrees to help them buy, to the bartender who serves them.
The ABC’s enforcement efforts are spearheaded by its Investigations Bureau. Since May, investigators have visited 130 licensed establishments in New Jersey and have carded 1,091 patrons, resulting in 81 arrests relating to the sale, service, or consumption of alcoholic beverages by person underage persons. Investigators are working closely with the State Police and county prosecutor’s offices in many of these details.
Recently, four people, including a bartender, were arrested and charged for underage-related violations at the Sand Bar Restaurant in Brielle. That bartender, Jessica Zeffiro, 28, of Ocean, was alleged to have sold alcohol on August 4 to 31-year-old Valerie Gialanella, of Barnegat, who then passed those drinks to Carly Unger, 19, and Alexa Rickert, 20, of Cedar Grove. Gialenella was charged with providing alcohol to persons under the legal age and Rickert and Unger were charged with consumption of alcohol underage.
That same day, ABC investigators observed Jeffrey M. Santiago, 21, purchase alcohol for Michael Malley, 18, at Corner Liquor Store in Union Beach. The investigators, who were serveiling the store from an adjacent parking lot, arrested Santiago and Malley after the former handed off the alcohol. Both men were Union Beach residents.
Michael Halfacre, the Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the State Department of Law and Public Safety has issued a stay to Point Pleasant Beach’s Ordinance establishing a midnight closing time for bars in the borough. The bars can stay open till 2 am pending a hearing and final ruling.
Halfacre ordered that a hearing on the matter be conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. Halfacre will make a final determination, as provided by law, of the hours of operation of Point Pleasant Beach bars after review the Administrative Law Judge’s findings. The hearing date is yet to be set.
In his order granting the stay, Halfacre noted that the 2 am closing time maintains the status quo, that should the bars prevail in their appeal that they would be unable to recover the lost business that would have resulted from a midnight closing time while the case was pending, and that the borough has several methods available to preserve the public safety until the final resolution of the appeal.
Jenkinson’s Pavilion Inc, Ocean Dunes, Inc, and Martell’s Tiki Bar, Inc are the companies that filed the appeal with ABC.
30 Shore Law Enforcement Agencies Will Participate in “Cops in Shops” Stings
BELMAR – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa gathered in Belmar today with state and local officials, as well as members of the liquor and prevention industry to outline his plans to stop underage drinking on the Jersey Shore.
“We all look forward to soaking up the fun of the Jersey Shore this summer, but we’re focused today on a serious mission: keeping the good times safe for our teens and young people,” Chiesa said. “Simply put, I consider underage drinking a threat to the health and well-being of our youth in New Jersey.”
The keystone of the Shore efforts is the “Cops in Shops” program, which is run by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
“Cops in Shops” is a program designed by the Century Council, a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers. Under the program, local police officers work undercover in participating retail locations. Law enforcement officials either pose as store employees or are positioned outside the establishment to apprehend adults who attempt to purchase alcohol for underage drinkers. The New Jersey Cops in Shops program is recognized nationally as a successful program.
“One Shore teenager told us that it was common for her and her friends to wait outside a liquor store for a sympathetic adult to buy them alcohol. She called this ‘Going Fishing,’” Chiesa said. “My message for those teens and adults of a similar mind is this: Simply don’t do it.”