Sting victims say they were set up | NevadaAppeal.com

Sting victims say they were set up

by F.T. Norton, Appeal Staff Writer

A recent alcohol-sales sting praised by city leaders has left some citation recipients feeling like they were set up to fail.

“This is entrapment,” Steve Orlando said Tuesday.

Orlando was one of seven people issued a $632 citation Sept. 29 for serving alcohol to a minor decoy only months away from turning 21. He has since been placed on suspension from his job as head bartender at the newly opened Casino Fandango. Orlando said the decoy looked to be in her 30s and came in with an undercover deputy who first ordered a beer and then she did.

“This is not right what they are doing,” he said. “She looked like a businesswoman, sat down with a man who I thought was her boyfriend and ordered a beer. All of these things are adding up to entrapment.”

Sharon K. Pruden Slater, owner of Daddy Dick’s, agreed it was impossible for her to tell the decoy was underage.

“I’m telling you, I looked her straight in the face. I looked right at her, and I would have never thought to card her. She looked 30 years old if she looked a day,” Slater said.

“I am pissed beyond all belief. It is wrong, the way they do it. Send me in somebody who looks like a minor to intentionally see if I serve minors, don’t bring me in a girl that looks 30 years old.”

Mark Shepler said in addition to using a decoy who looked much older than her actual age, the deputies distracted him by having one person waiting for a table while the decoy and another undercover deputy, whom he assumed were father and daughter were seated, at Grand Central Pizza and Pasta.

“I was in a big hurry to get to the customer at the door and seat him. I initially just threw menus at that couple and said I’ll be back in a minute, but they said ‘We’re not eating, we just want beer,’ and the deputy was still standing at the door. My higher concern was to (acknowledge) him.” he explained.

Carson Lanes general manager Jim Lewis said he had warned his employees of the highly publicized sting operations a few weeks before. He’d even gone so far as to hang an article and photograph that ran in the Nevada Appeal when a similar operation was conducted in early September.

He said he was disappointed when his bartender was cited, but sympathized with her situation.

“The girl looked to be 25 and the bartender was busy,” Lewis said. “What the Sheriff’s Department is trying to do is deliberately catch people. Send in a 16-year-old kid and see if we serve them.”

The Sept. 29 sting operation was the fourth conducted by the Carson City Sheriff’s Department since May.

Sgt. Bob White said the female decoy visited 14 businesses that night. Seven carded her and seven did not. A 16-year-old boy also worked as a decoy that night, visiting 27 businesses. He was sold alcohol at three.

“The law says you can’t sell alcohol to someone under 21 — no ifs ands or buts,” he said. “These people sold to her because they weren’t doing their jobs, which is to check IDs.”

White said the sting operations, funded by a grant, will continue.

Shepler, Slater, Orlando and Lewis’ bartender are set to appear before a judge Oct. 21.