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Convenience store denied alcohol license for second time

Posted: March 9, 2014 - 1:01am
At Tuesday's commission meeting, the Lewiston Express convenience store was denied a license to sell beer and wine.   Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
At Tuesday's commission meeting, the Lewiston Express convenience store was denied a license to sell beer and wine.

A Grovetown convenience store was denied an alcohol license for a second time by Columbia County commissioners this week.

Owners of Lewiston Express, 107 Lewiston Road, had reapplied for the beer and wine license after being rejected for their annual renewal in January, officials said.

County Administrator Scott Johnson said the reason officials denied the renewal had to do with the owner’s arrest and conviction on drug charges.

Authorities arrested store owner and his son in June 2012 for selling synthetic marijuana out of the store, according to Columbia county sheriff’s records.

Atul Patel, 50, and his son Kinjalkumar Patel, 27, were charged with possession of a Schedule I drug with intent to distribute after sheriff’s investigators seized 401 packages of suspected synthetic marijuana on June 21, 2012. Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, is a psychoactive designer drug derived of natural herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals that, when consumed, allegedly mimic the pleasurable effects of cannabis.

The Patels, both of Sussex Drive in Evans, were selling the drug out of the store where the younger Patel also worked, authorities said.

Both were indicted in January 2013 on mutiple felony counts of possession of counterfeit substance with intent to distribute.

They later pleaded guilty to reduced charges, all misdemeanors and were sentenced to probation, accoring to court records.

After being rejected for the alcohol license, Atul Patel removed himself from the controlling corporation, Bhagavati Inc., and transferred control to his wife, Varsha Patel, according to Georgia Secretary of State records.

Varsha Patel applied for the alcohol license, but officials said according to county code, that was not allowed.

Johnson said that the new owner was considered a “surrogate applicant” and not qualified for the license.

“Under the code, if a person does not qualify, their surrogate does not qualify,” he said.

Commissioners denied the application with a unanimous 4-0 vote.

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