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Nevis liquor commissioner acquitted of underage sale

Nevis' liquor commissioner was found not guilty Wednesday afternoon of an alcohol sale to a minor last summer.

Cammy Catherine Johnson, 52, was arrested in a compliance sting operation in June 2011, when as a clerk at the Nevis Municipal Liquor Store, she admitted selling a six-pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade to an underage decoy accompanied by law officers.

The decoy was one month shy of her 21st birthday, she testified.

Both Johnson, who quit the job shortly after she was charged, and liquor store manager Lisa Kamrowski, testified the decoy presented a driver's license without the red band on it designating the person as "under 21."

Johnson said although she glanced at the birth date on the license, she wasn't wearing her reading glasses and looked for the obvious banner on the license.

Johnson burst into tears when the verdict was read. The jury deliberated less than 30 minutes. Both Johson and Kamrowski declined immediate comment.

In finding her not guilty, the jury subscribed to defense arguments that Johnson was set up by the government, entrapped into breaking the law through deceptive conduct.

Johnson testified she never would sell to minors and had been to numerous training seminars about underage sales.

Defense attorney Joe Majors repeatedly told the six-member jury there was insufficient evidence to "find that she was a willing participant in this conduct instituted by the state. This was a setup."

Assistant County Attorney Jonathan Frieden tried the case, which began Wednesday morning. He could not be reached immediately for comment.

He downplayed the conspiracy defense in his closing remarks and focused on the concept of reasonable doubt.

"Law enforcement would have to have created a fake ID. That's just not reasonable," he told the jury. "The defense believes (the decoy) hid another ID on her. That's just not reasonable."

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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