$16K Cash Settlement Reached in Lieu of Suspension
Annapolis, Md. (December 20, 2010) – Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced a settlement in his agency’s investigation of the Worcester County Liquor Control Board (LCB) for statutory and regulatory violations. The LCB accepted investigator’s findings of price discrimination, below cost sales, illegal purchasing and illegally providing some retailers with items of value. In lieu of license suspension, the LCB made an offer in compromise, which was accepted and paid a $16,000 fine.
“My agency is committed to protecting small businesses and consumers. Leveling the playing field so that everyone follows the same rules is a task we take seriously. I am proud of the efforts of my agents in both the investigation of the LCB and the swift handling of a settlement,” said Comptroller Franchot.
Based on tips of improper operations by the LCB, field enforcement agents for the Comptroller began investigating the LCB in May. Investigators uncovered clear evidence of violations including selling the same product on the same day at different prices; selling products to some retailers below the cost allowable under the law; purchasing alcohol from a Washington-DC based retailer in direct violation of state law and providing select retailers with equipment at no cost.
After the release of the agency’s summary of findings and proposed suspension of the LCB’s operations, representatives from the LCB contacted field enforcement agents requesting a meeting to settle the case. In lieu of an eight-day license suspension, the LCB offered to pay a fine in the amount of $16,000. As a license suspension would hurt not only the wholesaler but also the small businesses served by the wholesaler, a settlement is the typical manner in which these type of cases are handled. The Comptroller determined that the payment of the fine was acceptable in accordance with the provisions of Article 2B, Section 10-402.
The agency’s summary of findings in the LCB investigation can be found here.
Media Contact: Christine Feldmann, 410-260-6346 (office), 443-336-0215 (cell)