Madison County commissioners denied beer and wine licenses for three county convenience stores Dec. 3 — Kwik Chek on Hwy. 29 in Hull, Neese Grocery on Hwy. 106 and Country Superette on Hwy. 29 north of Danielsville.
Meanwhile, 12 beer and wine licenses at other stores were renewed.
County commissioner Stanley Thomas raised the first objection to a license renewal, citing concerns about Kwik Chek. The former owner of the store Shafiq Muhammad was arrested in August on two counts of fraudulent entry on a voter registration card. That same month he was charged with battery under the Family Violence Act and cruelty to children in the third degree.
The next month a new owner for Kwik Chek appeared before the BOC asking for a beer and wine license continuance.
Thomas said the paperwork for the application was shoddy.
“The application had wrong dates, misinformation, false information, and it appeared that the residency (of the new owner) was for (the previous owner) who has some legal issues and a true bill has been presented to him by a grand jury which if it goes through means he could no longer have a beer and wine license,” said Thomas.
The commissioner said that county ordinances give the BOC authority to deny an license request if the applicant doesn’t appear to have a sufficient financial interest in the business or if he or she appears to be a “surrogate” for someone else.
“Basically if somebody is fronting for somebody, we have the right to deny that,” said Thomas.
Commissioner Mike Youngblood said that if Thomas wanted to make an issue of the Kwik Chek application, then the board needed to deny applications for all 15 stores and conduct thorough background checks on each one.
“I understand what commissioner Thomas is talking about but we have a couple more in here with a problem if we’re going to address fronting for somebody,” said Youngblood. “We’ve got one in here who is a convicted felon and the license has been transferred into another name, a family member…We should be a little more involved in knowing who is applying for these beer and wine licenses.”
County attorney Mike Pruett said the board couldn’t deny all licenses without specific reasons.
Sara Sexton was listed as the applicant for Country Superette and Neese Grocery. Her husband, Byron Sexton, was one of six area store owners to plead guilty in 2011 to federal gambling charges related to cash payouts for video poker machines.
The board agreed that all three stores denied beer and wine licenses Monday will receive a letter from Pruett spelling out the BOC’s problems with their applications. The applicants will be required to provide paperwork that establishes clear ownership of the store before any beer and wine license is issued.