Mulberry Clerk Charged for Selling Alcohol to a Minor

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office conducted an “Operation Pop-Top” on Friday, September 4, 2020, at nine different convenient stores in the Lakeland and Mulberry areas. The ongoing operation is designed to ensure that stores within the county do not sell alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age.

Deputies are assisted in the operation by a PCSO Explorer. The Explorer program is for high school students who are interested in a career in law enforcement. In this particular operation, the Explorer was only 17-years-old.

Of the nine stores visited Friday, eight of them were compliant.
The clerk at the Sunoco store at 1285 N. Church Avenue, Mulberry did not check the Explorer’s identification at the time of sale, as is required by Florida law. The clerk, 33-year-old Sonalbahen Jignesh Patel of Mulberry, was arrested and charged with Selling Alcohol to a Person under 21 years of Age (M1).

The Explorer had attempted to purchase a 16 oz. container of Budweiser beer.
The eight stores below were also visited during the operation and their clerks refused to sell alcohol to the minor.

  1. Race Trac – 4285 Hwy 98 S, Lakeland
  2. Sunoco – 2905 Reynolds Road, Lakeland
  3. Race Trac – 6486 S. Florida Avenue, Lakeland
  4. Marathon – 6808 S. Florida Avenue, Lakeland
  5. 7-Eleven – 7040 SR 37 N, Mulberry
  6. Murphy – 6801 N. Church Avenue, Mulberry
  7. 7-Eleven – 1011 CR 540A, Lakeland
  8. Circle K – 2175 CR 540A, Lakeland

“The stores and employees who were found to be in compliance with the law are to be congratulated. Each store needs to ensure that their employees do not sell alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21 years of age, and each clerk needs to check ID’s with each sale, and refuse to sell alcohol as required. We do these operations often, and we will hold stores and employees accountable.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff.

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