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Fined clerk says he was distracted by customer's sexy clothes

6/01/06 - HAUSER, OR) - Well, she LOOKED 21 anyway, maybe older, and what's more the clerk at the small store in this Coos County town says he was much distracted by what he called the young lady's scanty attire. So distracted, he said, that he didn't see the "Minor until 2007" stamped on her driver's license. She got the six-pack, and store owner David Cardwell got a $1,320 fine. The clerk had to pay $750.

Cardwell is hollering "Entrapment," "Draconian" and more.

Rather than pay, Cardwell says, he will take the alternative and close the store for a week. He says it doesn't make than much in a week in any case.

His clerk had been stung by an Oregon Liquor Control Commission decoy sent to test for underage sales.

His two clerks will be jobless until June 7.

Cardwell is not denying his employee erred, but says it was hardly fair.

"This young woman was dressed in very provocative clothing more suited for the bedroom," Cardwell said in a letter to the OLCC. "I would not allow my daughter to leave the house dressed in such a way."

He says the law should target clerks and servers, not the owners.

"We feel we did everything right," Cardwell wrote. "We trained (our clerk) correctly. We tested him correctly."

But Gary Francis, the local OLCC agent who coordinates the stings and hires the decoys, isn't persuaded.

"Maybe he should have been looking at her driver's license," Francis said of the clerk. "It was a straight-up deal. By the numbers. No trickery at all."

He said the decoy was dressed in a tank top, attire many woman her age wear.

People who serve or sell alcohol in Oregon are required to card anyone who looks 26 years old or younger, Francis said. He wants the decoys to look like 18-, 19- or 20-year-olds, not a 40-year-old.

"We are out there to see who is doing their job and who is not," he said.

He said female decoys can't wear makeup or doctor their hair to look older.

"This guy wasn't paying attention," Francis said. "If he would have looked at that young lady's ID, he would have seen the big red box on her ID that said she was a minor until 2007.

"DMV makes it easy. But if you don't use the tools that the state provides, then you deserve to get caught."

Cardwell disagrees.

"They're baiting. They're disguising. They're camouflaging them. They are trying to create a situation and trying to induce someone into taking the bait."

The store had never been similarly fined before.

"There's a first time for everything," said Francis.
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