AUBURN — Police say people younger than 21 bought alcohol in six stores in the city during a regional spot-check recently.

Deputy Chief Jason Moen said all of the establishments summoned to court July 31 were in his city. His department worked with a 20-year-old man trying to buy alcohol.

Shaw’s, Hannaford, Walmart, J&S Oil on Center Street, Mobil Mart on Center Street and Rite Aid on Minot Avenue were summoned for sale of liquor to a minor, Moen said. In all locations, except Shaw’s, the clerk was cited with the same charge.

At Shaw’s, the clerk was 17 and too young to be cited.

One hundred other stores throughout Androscoggin County turned away minors who tried to buy beer or other hard drinks during the spot-check.

“We’re not happy with it at all,” Moen said. “We’ve worked closely with our stores over the years doing these types of checks, and in the past we’ve always had very good luck with them. This time around, not so much.

“All the stores were given information on upcoming training that’s being offered for sales, and hopefully our establishments will take advantage of that,” he said.

The sting was the work of the Androscoggin County Alcohol Enforcement Team, the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, five local police departments and Healthy Androscoggin.

Officers and underage buyers fanned out throughout Androscoggin County on July 31. Minors working with police were told to go into the stores and try to buy alcohol while law enforcement waited outside.

In the six places where the alcohol was sold to the minors, “when they left the store, they immediately go to the car where the officers are and hand it over,” said Dan Morin, Healthy Androscoggin’s substance-abuse prevention coordinator, who announced the results Thursday.

The spot-checks are done by individual agencies throughout the year, but this was the first countywide check in at least a year, Morin said.

Lewiston, Auburn, Lisbon, Mechanic Falls and Sabattus police took part.

David Heidrich Jr., spokesman for the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, said the state has been fining first-time offending stores $550, but fines can go up to $1,800. Repeat offenders could face higher fines or have their liquor licenses suspended.

“Other checks have generally been closer to 15 percent failure, so it’s disappointing these six did fail their compliance check, but it is encouraging it’s only 5.6 percent,” Heidrich said.

Morin at Healthy Androscoggin said he saw the results as a case in which most stores did their part to prevent underage drinking.

“I just think it’s a fantastic job on their end,” he said.

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