A Fresno liquor store has been stripped of its license. A-1 Liquor and Deli was linked to last year’s deadly Greyhound Bus Crash that killed six people last July. The Alcoholic Beverage Control says A-1 is the store that sold alcohol to the minors involved in the crash.
ABC says A-1’s surveillance video shows the minors 18-year-old Sylvia Garay, 19-year-old Vanessa Gonzalez and 20-year-old Stephanie Cordoba handling the alcohol inside the store. It was the store’s Co-Owner, Mohamed Alyafaie that rang up the purchase.
ABC is holding Alyafaie responsible for furnishing alcohol to the minors. It’s stripping A-1’s liquor license indefinitely. Alyafaie said “Excuse me” before ripping the door closed and locking it; he wasn’t answering any questions. ABC says Alyafaie has lost his ability to sell alcohol in the state of California and his business’s liquor license is gone until new management takes over. “The store thinks as long as they I.D. the person making the purchase they're okay,” says Fresno ABC’s District Administrator Christine Weldon. “The Department believes he caused beverages to be furnished to Garay and Gonzalez.”
ABC says surveillance video, which has not been released, shows 21-year-old Michelle Cole and 5 minors get out of a car outside of A-1 liquor. ABC says two 20-year-olds stayed outside while Cole and 18-year-old Sylvia Garay, 19-year-old Vanessa Gonzalez and 20-year-old Stephanie Cordoba went inside. Video captures Garay and Gonzalez picking up a total of 4 Four Lokos; they carried the drinks to the front and Cordoba walked out. At the register the remaining three women asked for two bottle of vodka. “He should have requested to see an I.D. from everyone in the group,” says Weldon. Instead, he only asked for identification from 21-year-old Michelle Cole who paid for the alcohol in cash. “I know enough to know by ABC law standards he [Alyafaie] did what he was supposed to do,” says an alcohol vendor that sells to A-1 Liquor and Deli in Fresno.
California law does not require clerks to I.D. everyone in the group. “This is a unique situation. A lot of times the kids are hanging out around the corner where the clerk can’t see what's going on,” says Weldon. But in this case, she says the minors walked up holding the alcohol and handed it to Alyafaie and that was enough for ABC to hold him responsible. “A lot of poor choices were made that night and they had dire consequences,” says Weldon.
ABC adds A-1 was cited shortly after the Greyhound bus crash for selling alcohol to another minor.
As for the stores future, ABC says it could start selling alcohol again in as little as two of weeks; an application for new management has been pending for the past year and a half. Officials say the new owner cannot be related too or friends with Alyafaie.
21-year-old Michelle Cole was convicted of a misdemeanor for purchasing alcohol for minors. ABC adds the young man, Brandon McCullough, whose home the minors drank the alcohol was also charged with a misdemeanor. CHP officials declared the 18-year-old driver of the SUV, Sylvia Garay responsible for the bus crash; Garay's blood alcohol levels were over 0.1%.
Christina Lusby Reporting.