Three bartenders at local restaurants were arrested Saturday evening for serving alcoholic beverages to underage customers. The three employees were each charged with first degree “unlawfully dealing with a child.”
After conducting an investigation into the illegal sale of alcohol to those under the legal drinking age of 21, Shelter Island police officers, assisted by Southold police officers and an “underage agent,” visited four Island restaurants and arrested bartenders at Sunset Beach Hotel, The Dory and SALT.
All three — Jakob Restrepo-Bonet, 20, of Farmingville, arrested at The Dory; Bojan Milosevic, 33, of Astoria at Sunset Beach Hotel; and Jordan Marie Toppin, 28, of Santa Monica, California at SALT — were released on $250 bail and ordered to appear in Shelter Island Justice Court at a later date.
Police also issued summonses to two underage persons they said were observed consuming an alcoholic beverage during the investigation. They were released on an undisclosed amount of cash bail and ordered to appear in Justice Court at a later date.
Shelter Island Police Chief Jim Read said an underage man from Southold, under the direction of the Southold Police Department, ordered an alcoholic beverage at the three establishments and was served without being asked for identification. Contrary to rumors after the arrests, no false identification was presented, the chief said.
Underage agents “have nothing on them except the money we provide,” the chief added. “If they are ID’ed, it’s over because they have none.”
In addition, the underage agent is someone who clearly should be asked for identification. “We don’t use someone who is 20 and ¾ years old, for example,” the chief said.
The charges don’t affect the ongoing operations at any of the three restaurants.
According the New York State Liquor Authority Handbook for Retail Licensees, proprietors holding liquor licenses “are subject to disciplinary action by the SLA whether you or your employee served the minor. It does not matter whether you thought the person was at least 21, if they lied about their age, or if they appeared to be at least 21 years old. You are responsible for sales made directly to the minor.”
In an emailed response, SALT owners Keith and Ali Bavaro said they are “working diligently” with their staff to ensure such an arrest doesn’t happen again.
Jack Kiffer, owner of the Dory, told the Reporter he had security tapes of the bar and would be viewing them. Mr. Kiffer also said he was purchasing a device that bartenders can use to ascertain if identification documents are real or forged.
Sunset Beach didn’t respond to a request for comment.