Just hours after a municipal court hearing on the latest allegations of an alleged sale of alcohol to a minor, Red Bank police are dropping the charges, redbankgreen has learned.
Borough attorney Tom Hall tells us that Javier Lopez-Ruiz, the 19-year-old Middletown man arrested for buying beer from the store on July 10, has recanted his story about not being carded by store employee Balvinder Singh.
That leaves the borough without any testimony linking Lopez-Ruiz to Singh, and thus, no case.
“We had to do the right thing,” Hall told redbankgreen early this afternoon. “I can’t prove any further violations of the law.”
As a result, the borough is also withdrawing its request to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division for permission to immediately shut down Best Liquors as a public hazard.
Hall said the situation emerged while Singh was being arraigned in borough court this morning. Hall was was re-questioning Lopez-Ruiz, who recanted his statement that he had not shown any identification to Singh. Instead, said Hall, Lopez-Ruiz said he had shown a forged green card to obtain alcohol.
Sharma and Singh both insisted in the past two days that Lopez-Ruiz was carded, and showed Singh an ID attesting that he was 21 years old. They say the incident was captured on a store security tape.
The borough’s June 28 revocation of the license over prior findings of sales to minors remains in effect, and under appeal by store owner Sunny Sharma. If the ABC grants the borough’s latest request, he’d be allowed to keep selling liquor during the pendency of the appeal.
Reached by telephone at the Leighton Avenue store, Singh said he was happy to have the matter resolved.
“I did what I could do,” he said. “What can I do after they walk out the door?”
Singh had previously told redbankgreen that he remembered seeing a Mexican consul ID, not a green card, but that the store does so much business at that time of night, between 9p and 10 p, when it closes, that it is hard to remember every transaction.
An hour before closing is “peak time,” he said, and Lopez-Ruiz came in at 9:40, he said.