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Using Underage Volunteers in Sting, Sheriff Cites 4 of 22 Stores That Sold Tobacco Illegally

| February 20, 2013

Four Palm Coast area stores got burned in a sheriff's sting of tobacco sellers to under-age smokers.

Four Palm Coast area stores got burned in a sheriff’s sting of tobacco sellers to under-age smokers.

Four Flagler County store clerks face misdemeanor charges of illegal sale of tobacco to minors after the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office completed a sting operation Monday.

School Resource Deputies sent juveniles from the Sheriff’s Office Explorer program inside local convenience stores to attempt to purchase tobacco products. Of the 22 stores involved, 18 clerks refused to sell to the underage customers.

Four clerks completed the sale and the juveniles immediately met an SRD outside who then went inside to confront the store employee and advise them of the unlawful sale.

At the Humidor Cigar Shop at European Village, for example, the underage “operative,” as he or she was referred to in a police report, was able to buy four small cigars. The 21-year-old clerk at the store “was cooperative and very apologetic about the incident,” the sheriff’s report states. “I advised her that no physical arrest would be made, and that we would file the criminal charges with the State Attorney’s Office. An Agent of the State ABT unit was with us, and instructed Lugo to have her owners contact her, and provided her with a business card.” ABT is the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.

“The use of tobacco products by juveniles in any community is a problem,” Sheriff Jim Manfre said. “An adult selling tobacco products to youth is irresponsible, illegal and only adds to the problem. We will continue to conduct operations that address the sale of both tobacco products as well as alcohol to juveniles in the future.”

The Palm Coast businesses where the illegal sales took place were:

7-Eleven, 220 Palm Coast Parkway NE
Race-Trac Gas, 301 Palm Coast Pkwy NE
The Humidor, 101 Palm Harbor Parkway
JMJ Tobacco, 800 Belle Terre Parkway

Misdemeanor charges were forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office on the four offending clerks.

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21 Responses for “Using Underage Volunteers in Sting, Sheriff Cites 4 of 22 Stores That Sold Tobacco Illegally”

  1. John F. Pollinger says:

    While the intent of such an investigation my be laudable, the use of Law Enforcement Explorers in this manner is a violation of Explorer Program Policy: 2.6 Covert Activities Policy
    Explorers are prohibited from directly or indirectly engaging in covert operations (i.e., serving in an undercover capacity) and should not be used as confidential informants or sources. These activities are fraught with potential legal complications and are risk inherent for the agency and the Explorer. Further, they are inconsistent with the career education and orientation objectives of Law Enforcement Exploring. Any agency electing to utilize Explorers as private citizens in covert operations does so with the clear understanding that its unit of government is solely responsible for any civil damages and legal or medical complications that might arise from such an activity.

  2. Trollololo says:

    Seriously, did they waste our tax money on crap like this. Wow, they sure have reduced the crime in Palm Coast.

  3. Good Job says:

    Once again, kudos to Sheriff Manfre and FCSO for carrying out this operation. Would people be more happy if our tax dollars were spent on ten deputies stopping one car with a broken tail light? Which, by the way, happened a lot during the previous administration. While smoking might be on the decline nationwide due to a successful decades long campaign against it, I believe it might have gotten worse in some sections of the population, such as our youth. As a parent of teenagers I am worried sick about others introducing them to smoking although we have a tobacco free home. I appreciate the resources dedicated by FCSO to this important preventative effort.

    • Ray Thorne says:

      Then you better get their parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins to stop smoking as well since most if these kids steal the cigarettes from them or anyone else when the opportunity arises.

  4. Reality Check says:

    Manfe will do anything to get in the paper, he is a media whore with a huge ego problem, this is his way of saying “look at me, see I promised to lower crime” just not the kind that drives down property values. This guy needs to go back to being an ambulance chasing attorney, he needs to figure out how to reduce the real crime. The best part is he has been in office a month and now we have our first law suit, ACLU sueing over mail at the jail, how much will that cost the tax payers? since he is an attorney maybe he should try the case pro-bono.

  5. PalmCoast Parent says:

    Said the Store Owner and one of his Lawyers……

  6. Andy says:

    I, for one, certainly feel safer knowing there will be tightened scrutiny on all those teens trying to buy $12 cigars. God Bless The USA.
    Seriously- sting the Humidor?
    As a member, I NEVER see teens/kids in there. Dumb smoking kids want Marlboro, not Romeo Y Julieta robustos

  7. Eric says:

    I agree, definitely a real “WOW” effect. Im so happy knowing that we nabbed 4 businesses selling cigarettes to people under the age of 18. Its great to know the Sheriff has his priorities perfectly in order. unbelievable!!

  8. Pathetic says:

    If the Sheriff’s Office didn’t address this issue people would bitch. When they do address this issue, people bitch. Can never make everyone happy I guess.

  9. M L says:

    It is legal as an operative of the ABT. Or as the ABT defines them as “Investigative Aides”

  10. confidential says:

    Sour Grapes comments.
    I totally agree with this investigation operative and the positive results, as I see often as daily, minors defiantly smoking in the grounds or around some gas station convenient stores. I ask myself all the time where do they get the $$ for the expensive packs and why aren’t their parents monitoring their kids, out even late at night? I sadly invision future cancer or heart failure patients of each of them, then lets try and prevent this outcome. Why do we have laws if not enforced? Good job Sheriff!!

    • Ray Thorne says:

      Sour grapes comments? If it is a violation to utilize the kids in the Police Explorer program in such a manner then I’m glad someone spoke up about it. and he used his name when he could have remained anonymous.

  11. Ditto Mr. Pollinger says:

    People don’t either read or understand what Mr. Polinger has said..Reread his VERY knowledgeable comment.

  12. Brighton Beach says:

    You want to see a danger to public safety?
    Walk or drive around the Publix parking lots.

    Send some undercover police there instead.

  13. People should consider the intent of this operation. Was it the sheriff’s intent to help keep young people from taking up the bad habit of smoking? I smoke so I know. Or to generate revenue for the county? Did the clerks, that sold the tobacco products to underage people, not care or did they make an assessment about the undercover operative’s age and feel they were old enough?
    What did the operative look like- full beard and baritone voice or like they weren’t old enough? Before we judge those that were caught in this sting operation, we need to know that. We do still have the illusion of free choice in this country so at what age do we get to exercise that right, even though, that choice may be unhealthy? 18? 21?
    There’s a difference between the ‘letter of the law’ and the ‘spirit of the law’. We need more clarity in this before we can decide. The question is: Should government programs like this replace good parenting? I believe most people want to comply with the laws. These clerks could have simply received a warning and still have a job.

  14. Jordan says:

    Stay out of palm coast, not only is it an unfriendly town now your bilking the residents any way to make a buck at taxpayers expense( multiple traffic cameras everywhere) I myself along with others from ormond won’t shop in palm coast due to the traps located through town. Nice job losers! It’s only natural for palm coast to bilk the residents of they’re money, after all we have the most unemployed people in the county! Don’t worry panera won’t build another restaurant and the city won’t allow factories either. Good job losers!

  15. PalmCoast Parent says:

    Bottom line, you card people who purchase tobacco products. If you don’t have your ID, go home and get it! Don’t complain because the officers are putting an end to underage tobacco sales. I don’t care if it is unfair, it should be regulated.

  16. Frank says:

    I love how everyone complains about where their tax money goes. Flagler County has one of the lowest tax bases in the country. Quit your complaining. The peanuts these people pay doesn’t go very far. My god most of the people in Daytona North won’t even pay to have the roads paved because god for bid there taxes might go up. Even though paving the roads out there will bring there property value up. When is the mentality going to change around here?

    I agree with Pathetic people in this county are never satisfied just a bunch of chronic complainers.

    • Ben Dover says:

      Hey Frank , there are no freaking jobs here , not everyone retired from robbing the public works up north, and sending these kids in to buy stuff, could end up getting them hurt , there are big fines on the clerks, some might take exception, and yes the people from up north moved there dirt bag gangster kids into our neighborhoods, the cops should be busy rounding these thugs up , not entrapping people trying to make a living, just more of this county trying to screw money out of its citizens, its a disgrace!!!!!

  17. Florida is infamous for its legal chicanery which permeates law enforcement and local governments.

  18. peter paul says:

    Myself, I stop doing business in palm coast altogether.These local politicians are out of control,palm coast will be a ghost city as soon as the residence are able to relocate, they will.There is nothing to do too many restrictions.

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