An NBC4 News investigation has raised serious questions about the integrity of Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control delivery system.
The news station reported Thursday that it had filmed department employees drinking on the job. In one video, cameras caught two deliverymen drinking from foam cups while delivering alcohol to county-run liquor stores. One crew member was videotaped leaving a store with a long bottle in a brown bag, and then pouring what appeared to be alcohol into a cup and stirring it. Later, one of the two crew members is seen throwing empty bottles, which the News crew later identified as wine bottles, into the trash, according to the video. Department Director George Griffin told NBC4 drinking on the job is against the department’s administrative procedures and that the two crew members were pulled off the street after he saw the video.
In a second report that aired earlier Thursday, NBC’s Tisha Thompson said the investigative team reviewed six months of department credit reports, which the department uses to keep track of what it delivers to stores. Thompson detailed a scheme in which some delivery crews were skimming cases of beer from their deliveries and labeling them as “short,” meaning they were reported as never placed on the truck. An anonymous store owner told Thompson he has been offered discount cases of beer from the delivery drivers in the past.
The investigative team found that two-thirds of businesses expecting deliveries were “shorted” over the six months and that the same three delivery crews had as many as three times the amount of “shorts” as other crews.
Thompson reported that the department tracks the so-called shorts on paper instead of using a computer-based system and that no one tracked which trucks have the highest number of shorts.
The two reports raise questions about the integrity of the county-controlled liquor system. The system nets the county more than $30 million annually in profit, but has been criticized by local and state officials.
After the reports aired, County Council member Hans Riemer, who has previously called for reforms at the department, told the news station he was shocked and outraged by what he saw in the investigation.
Riemer called for a criminal investigation into the issues raised by the NBC4 report.