Three bartenders were busted for serving alcohol to an undercover underage patron during stings Saturday night at Southampton Village restaurants and nightclubs, according to police.
Chief Thomas Cummings said the sting operation was in response to a June 12 New York Post article that alleged drug use and underage drinking were rampant at 75 Main restaurant and bar Nello Summertimes. Cummings said the police department would have done stings regardless of the article, but the allegations accelerated the schedule. “We probably would have waited until after Fourth of July weekend to start them,” he said.
The Post article included many anonymous and unfounded accusations about the police department and current and former police officers, but Cummings said stories of teens inside village bars and drug use in bathrooms during Memorial Day weekend are not too far fetched. “You can’t say it's impossible, because it is,” he said.
For the sting last weekend, the department enlisted a woman who was older than 18 but younger than 21, the legal drinking age, to try to get into bars and order a drink, Cummings said, adding that she used her real ID when carded.
Nello’s was the police’s first stop on Saturday night. Bartender Tuvshinbat Selenge, 24, of Des Plaines, Ill. served the undercover agent a drink despite her age and he was charged with unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree, a misdemeanor, and released on $250 stationhouse bail, Cummings said.
Next, police and the undercover operative headed to , where she successfully ordered drinks from two different bartenders, Cummings said. “She had no problem getting in,” he added.
Natallia Saroka, 20, and Todor S. Todorov, 22, both of Southampton, were charged with unlawfully dealing with a child and both released on $250 bail.
The agent was carded at Southampton Social Club on Elm Street and denied entry, and nightclub The Elm at next door was closed before she could attempt to get in, Cummings said.
Cummings said a plain-clothes police officer was inside the bars during the operation, but he did not witness any drug use or other illegal behavior — and if he did he would have made an arrest.
The police also performed “SLA checks” at Nello’s and 75 Main. Both had technical violations that were referred to the State Liquor Authority, such as not displaying a liquor license properly or missing a sign warning pregnant woman not to drink, Cummings said.
The police department and have been inundated with complaints lately from residents who live around Nello’s, The Southampton Social Club and The Elm.
Chief complaints are loud music, patrons leaving the bars and yelling and screaming in the streets, throwing bottles, urinating in bushes and screeching tires, Cummings said. Police met Thursday with residents who live near Nello’s, and their main concern was the noise, he said.
“It’s nice to see a vibrant busy business district, you just have to maintain order in your premise,” Cummings said.
Residents have also come to village board meetings to complain about bar patrons parking in front of their houses and being noisy into the early morning.
The village board revised parking rules on and around Elm Street in response to complaints, but some of the changes only exacerbated the issue. Now Mayor Mark Epley says village and police officials are working to overhaul parking rules throughout the entire village.