By Adam Pagnucco.
The Montgomery County Police Department has reported that two men, one of whom worked for the county’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC), were arrested for a series of liquor thefts from trucks parked at the county’s warehouse. The Washington Post and Bethesda Magazine also reported the story. Note that this was not only an inside job but that DLC’s security procedures were so inadequate that the suspects were able to commit eight different thefts before being caught! But neither the Post nor Bethesda Magazine fully examined the history of criminal, unethical and suspicious activity at DLC.
Consider these other recent events.
1. In November 2014, NBC4 discovered that DLC employees were skimming booze from deliveries and attempting to sell it to licensees under the table. People inside DLC told NBC4 that the scams had been going on for years. Four delivery workers were fired and another quit after NBC4’s undercover investigation. Yet another worker was fired later.
2. That same month, NBC4 caught DLC employees drinking and driving on the job.
3. In March 2015, the county’s Inspector General found that DLC’s warehouse was run with sticky notes. He said “as many as 154 cases a day go missing without anyone investigating why.”
Corruption and ethics issues go back a long, LONG ways at the liquor monopoly. In 2001, its Director pleaded guilty to misconduct in office, misappropriating funds and felony theft. A subsequent Inspector General’s report blamed the county for failure of oversight. In 1980, a consultant who found that DLC was steering disproportionate business to a company connected to the County Executive was forced out – by that same County Executive. That incident mushroomed into a major political scandal, complete with secret tapes and hiring abuses, known as “Liquorgate.” All of this is on top of continued poor service for decades including two consecutive New Year’s Eve meltdowns. No wonder consumers flee the liquor monopoly.
Next year, elections will be held for County Executive, County Council and the state legislature. Which candidates will stand up against DLC and advocate for ending its monopoly status once and for all?