BERKELEY -- An employee who bought stolen cell phones while on the job at a liquor store has caused a South Berkeley liquor store to lose its license for 20 days, authorities said Monday.
M&H Market & Liquor at 3198 Adeline St. at the corner of Fairview Street was also placed on probation for the next three years. The store stands to lose its liquor license completely if there is another offense, said John Carr, a spokesman for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The joint investigation between the ABC and Berkeley police began last year when agents conducting surveillance on the market and saw a clerk buying stolen iPhones. Over the course of a one-month investigation, an undercover agent for the state agency said the market employee purchased multiple iPhones that he was told by the seller were stolen. Agents found more than 20 cell phones at the market, many of which were stolen.
Berkeley police arrested the employee, later identified as 59-year-old Alawdi Saleh, in March 2013 for knowingly purchasing phones which appeared to be stolen. A store is held responsible for an employee's actions while he or she is on duty, Carr said.
The notice of a 20-day suspension was only posted last Thursday because the legal process of suspending a license can take a year or more, Carr said.
Staff writer Kristin J. Bender contributed to this report. David DeBolt covers breaking news. Contact him in Richmond at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.