Thursday, November 16, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 11/17/17
Featured image: Falcon Fuel in Maywood, which has been caught selling illegal cigarettes and possessing drug paraphernalia. | Google Earth
Some customers who may be looking to buy tobacco from Sam’s Quick Stop, 1919 St. Charles Rd. in Maywood, may be disappointed for a while.
The business recently agreed to a 9-month suspension of its tobacco license, which went into effect on Nov. 15 after the store was caught by village officials for selling loose cigarettes to someone under 21 years old, the village’s minimum tobacco-purchasing age, earlier this year.
Sam’s Quick Stop in Maywood has been caught selling loose cigarettes. | Google Earth
If during that period Sam’s violates the agreement by selling tobacco, the village could permanently revoke the business’s tobacco license.
This is the second time that Sam’s has agreed to suspend its tobacco license. In January, it agreed to voluntarily suspends its tobacco license for 60 days after it was cited for illegal tobacco sales twice last year.
And after employees of Falcon Fuel, 201 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Maywood, were caught selling loose cigarettes and possessing drug paraphernalia back in June, the store offered to pay $10,000 in lieu of its tobacco license being suspended. The village is still negotiating with the store over penalties, with a hearing to be held sometime in the coming months.
Falcon’s is no stranger to fines, suspensions and threats by the village to revoke its license. Last November, the village board voted unanimously to direct staff to begin the process of revoking the store’s license after it was cited twice earlier that year for selling small plastic baggies that are commonly used to store narcotics. In January, the business was taken over by new ownership.
During a Nov. 7 regular meeting, Trustee Ron Rivers pointed out that the village had been down this route before with other violators, namely Captain Fresh Farm, 1001 S. 9th Ave. He said that, as with Captain Fresh, he and other officials have witnessed Falcon’s old owners in the store after it switched to new owners.
After the village revoked the store’s business license last January, the village allowed a new licensee to operate the convenience store in the same building on the condition that “none of the former licensee’s corporate members, family members of corporate members, agents or employees would work at the new store,” according to a village memo.
Once the new store, called Maywood Fresh Market, was up and running, some village board officials said that they’d seen family members of the previous licensee working in the store.
“We went through this dance with Captain Fresh” said Rivers during the Nov. 7 meeting. “Everyone who has goes into that store knows that the same people are in there.”
Rivers asked whether or not the penalties that were applied to Falcon Fuel last year will carry over to the new owners in order to prevent the sidestepping of harsh penalties, such as closure, that has taken place with other businesses in the past. He said that he doesn’t believe that fines and suspensions are effectively deterring the illegal tobacco sales among stores that are repeat offenders.
Michael Jurusik, Maywood’s village attorney, said that the only way to really stop businesses from “playing games” and shuffling ownership to avoid shutting down is to outlaw the sale of tobacco in the village altogether — a step that the attorney conceded was “pretty draconian.”
David Myers, Maywood’s assistant village manager, said that he agreed with Rivers that the village’s tobacco enforcement mechanisms become “a joke” if businesses are constantly finding ways to circumvent them.
Instead of outlawing tobacco sales across the village, Myers and other staff members recommended that the board consider outlawing the sale of tobacco at the site of those individual businesses — located within a certain distance from daycares, schools, playgrounds and similar places — that have been cited for illegal tobacco sales.
So if the measure that Myers references were implemented before Captain Fresh had its business license revoked last year, the store would likely not have been allowed to continue tobacco sales under new ownership.
Jurusik said that in order to implement such a measure, the board could possibly amend its code; however, he said, a code amendment may not be mandatory. The attorney said that he’ll report back to the board on the matter in the coming weeks and months. VFP
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to David Myers as assistant village attorney. This post has since been updated. VFP regrets the error.
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