NJ liquor stores and wholesalers face $ 10 million penalty for unfair practices

TRENTON – Two central Jersey-based wine and spirits retailers have agreed to pay a total of $ 180,000 in penalties to address findings they were engaging in discriminatory business practices, the state attorney general said on Tuesday .

Birchfield Ventures, doing business as Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Market in Woodbridge, and Bernardsville Wine Company, doing business as Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in Bernardsville, will each pay a fine of $ 90,000 and take corrective action to avoid the suspension of their liquor license. General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.

The fines are part of $ 10.3 million in penalties imposed on 20 retailers and two wholesalers statewide for engaging in an illegal scheme with Allied Beverage Group and Fedway Associates, two of the largest wine wholesalers and state spirits.

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Allied Beverage Group and Fedway Associates will each pay $ 4 million in penalties to resolve findings that they engaged in discriminatory business practices that unfairly favored their larger retail customers, Grewal said.

Allied Beverage Group and Fedway Associates together account for approximately 70% of the wine and 80% of the spirits sold wholesale in New Jersey.

Together, their sentence is the largest in the history of the Alcohol Control Division, according to the attorney general’s statement. The Attorney General oversees the division.

Investigators found that wholesalers were using an incentive program under the control of national beverage regulators to grant interest-free loans, credit extensions and other discriminatory practices to just 20 retailers in the state, according to Grewal.

The incentive program is aimed at keeping payments “relatively low” and preventing wholesalers from replacing interest-free loans, Grewal said.

Allied Beverage and Fedway have given some retailers an edge over their smaller competitors by giving discounts more often and in amounts higher than allowed, authorities said.

“Retail incentives are a legitimate marketing tool as long as they are above the board and equally accessible to all retailers. Such discriminatory practices promote market instability by hurting small retailers, ”said James Graziano, Acting Director of the Beverage Control Division.

The North American Interfraternity Conference prohibits strong alcohol in its member sections on campus.

The two companies said they would adopt a corrective action plan and hire a compliance monitor for two years, the attorney general said. They will also upgrade their IT systems and lay off some employees or seek to have them quit or retire.

The 20 retailers face penalties ranging from $ 90,000 to $ 375,000, totaling $ 2.3 million.

Here are the retailers and their payment terms:

  • 70 Wine and Spirits, LLC, t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • Ashburn Corp., t / a Roger Wilco: monetary offer of $ 200,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • Birchfield Ventures, Inc., t / a Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Market (Woodbridge): cash offer of $ 90,000 as compromise instead of suspension.
  • Birchfield Ventures, Inc. t / a Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet (Lawrenceville): $ 160,000 cash offer compromise instead of suspension.
  • Bernardsville Wine Company, LLC t / a Gary’s Wine & Marketplace: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • BLW World, Inc., t / a Liquor World of Fort Lee: monetary offer of $ 110,000 as a compromise instead of suspension.
  • Closter Wine and Spirits t / a Gary’s Wine & Marketplace: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise instead of suspension and corrective action.
  • Ecclipse LLC, t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • The Hudson Wine Market t / a Hudson Wine Market: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise instead of suspension.
  • Jelma, Inc., t / a Gary’s Wine & Marketplace: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • Leiham Corp., t / a Bayway World of Liquors: monetary offer of $ 375,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension plus manager’s gradual retirement and other corrective measures.
  • Meritage Wine Cellars LLC, t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • MM Wine & Spirits Inc., t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • Richard McAdam, Inc., t / a Stirling World of Liquor and Stirling Fine Wines: monetary offer of $ 110,000 as compromise instead of suspension.
  • Somerset Wine Company, LLC, t / a Gary’s Wine & Marketplace: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • SVGI, Inc., t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • SVGS Inc., t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 (including $ 62,500 unrecorded in cash seized from store) as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • Vinvingo, LLC, t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • VSGI LLC, t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.
  • Vive Naini, LLC, t / a Vingo Wine and Spirits: monetary offer of $ 90,000 as a compromise in lieu of suspension and corrective action.

Email: [email protected]

Nick Muscavage is a surveillance reporter for the Courier News, Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com. To gain unrestricted access to his investigative work that exposed wrongdoing and changed state law, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


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About Christopher Easley

Christopher Easley

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