By Darrell Todd Maurina
After a June 9 tobacco sting operation in which eight Tucumcari area businesses received citations, several local stores are trying to make sure they don’t sell tobacco to minors again.
At the Logan Food Market, although clerk Dismas Kreshak said he didn’t check the identification of the 17-year-old girl who bought tobacco from him, future customers won’t get away so easily.
“I definitely learned looks don’t mean much; it took me by surprise,” Kreshak said. “It’s the first time anything like that ever happened to me.”
Although Kreshak said his prior policy was to check nine out of 10 customer’s ID’s based on apparent age, and the store has signs warning that people under 18 cannot buy tobacco, Kreshak said customers now will face near-total ID checks.
“I’ve gotten a lot of people upset, but I ask for ID’s now no matter how old they are,” Kreshak said. “Some of them say the ID is in the car, but I tell them to go get it.”
Kreshak said he will plead guilty at his June 26 court date.
“I know I was at fault not asking for IDs and I have no excuse for it other than I was real busy,” Kreshak said.
The manager of the Allsup’s store in Clayton, Cheryl Schroeder, said one of her most diligent employees, assistant manager Margaret Toler, was the person who sold the tobacco.
“I don’t know how we are going to deal with it; my area supervisor is going to go up with me and we’re all going into court together,” Schroeder said. “The way the scenario was set up, the girl looked 27 and the guy she was with looked 30 to 35.”
Schroeder said her staff are carefully trained to prevent tobacco sales to minors.
“We tell the people we’d better never catch you selling to your friends,” Schroeder said. “I thought the law was if they looked older you didn’t have to card them.”
Schroeder said the staff has met to discuss how to prevent the problem from happening again but isn’t sure what steps will be taken.
“We are all very good at checking IDs, especially the girl who was working,” Schroeder said.
The owner of one business hit by the sting, the Nara Visa Truck Terminal, didn’t know about the citation until reading it in the newspaper and wished the state police had spoken directly to him instead of issuing a citation to his clerk.
“They should have let me know about it, that’s what makes me mad,” said owner Steve Garcia. “Nobody lets me know nothing.”
A manager at San Jon Texaco said his clerk misread the identification card presented and referred inquiries to Mike Candell, his supervisor at a different location.
“We do the normal training,” Candell said. “I’m really not allowed to be talking to you guys.”
Other businesses either could not be reached for or have declined comment.