Sting operation nabs pub

Porter’s Pub faces a possible fine of up to $3,000 and temporary suspension of its liquor license after an employee sold alcohol to a minor without requesting identification.

In an undercover sting operation led by San Diego Police Department vice operations Detective Larry Darwent, an underage volunteer was sent into the pub to purchase a beer on Nov. 17.

According to a statement released by the accused employee, who asked to remain anonymous because of ongoing legal developments, the girl approached the bar and ordered a Budweiser in a bottle. After she was informed that the pub did not carry Budweiser, the undercover minor asked for a Samuel Adams. The employee then gave the girl the beer without verifying her age.

“I thought she looked 21 and did not ask her for her ID, as I have been very well trained to do if there is any doubt,” the employee stated in a letter.

A few customers later, Darwent approached the employee, showing his badge and revealing that he was working with the police department in a “minor decoy operation.”

Witnesses said that Darwent showed the employee the minor’s real identification, reprimanding the worker. John Muir College senior Patrick McNaughton, another pub employee, said that the detective pushed the worker to tears.

“The way that he treated [the employee] should be illegal,” McNaughton said.

The employee was immediately fired from Porter’s Pub and must appear in court on Jan. 19.

She could face a fine of up to $1,000 and be charged with a misdemeanor. Vice operations runs undercover stings once a month citywide, and encounters violations approximately 10 percent of the time, Darwent said.

Violations are forwarded to the police’s Alcohol Beverage Control Department, which reviews cases. The pub’s managers must now present their version of the facts and then decide whether or not they will accept punishment for the violation or take the case to a hearing, according to ABC investigator Jennifer Hill.

Potential penalties include a 15-day suspension of the pub’s alcohol license, or a monetary fine — ranging from a minimum of $750 to a maximum of $3,000 — in lieu of the suspension. Her department has not yet received the case, Hill said.

Failure to check identification is a rare occurrence, and the pub is usually scrupulous about carding, according to pub managers. From the onset of training, a large emphasis is placed on checking the ID of anyone that appears under the age of 30.

The establishment’s employees manual provides tips on how to distinguish a real ID from a fake one. A case of confiscated fake IDs also hangs on the wall as examples.

Still, the violation was clear, Darwent said.

McNaughton said he is doubtful that the pub will be shut down.

“We are the last fun business,” he said. “I don’t think UCSD students would let it happen.”

— Additional reporting by Charles Nguyen

News Editor