ABC sting operation hits Modesto stores

Modesto police conducted a sting operation Friday night in which an undercover state Alcoholic Beverage Control investigator, posing as a drunken customer, was sold alcohol by 14 out of 15 stores in Modesto.

The undercover investigator went to liquor stores, chain mini-markets and grocery stores, said Modesto police Detective James Rokaitis.

In the sting, Rokaitis said officers make the undercover investigator look disheveled, throwing some tequila on him so he smells like alcohol.

The investigator stumbles into the store, grabs the booze, stumbles to the front counter and drops change on the floor to complete the drunken appearance. At the same time, a second undercover investigator walks into the store to observe the sale.

Selling alcohol to someone who is already drunk is against the law, but none of the stores were cited, Rokaitis said.

"We would much rather use (the sting operation) as an educational tool," said Rokaitis, who coordinated the sting.

The only store that did not sell to undercover investigator was a store that was caught selling to underage decoy during another sting last week. Instead of a citation, Rokaitis said the investigators on Friday handed employees at the stores "shame-on-you" letters and explained to them what they did wrong.

He said they might have to start giving out citations, because the number of violations increased from a similar sting done in 2009, when 11 out of 15 stores sold to the apparently drunken decoy.