Oregon Uses Sexy Teens to Entrap Store Clerks

Well, she LOOKED 21 anyway, maybe older, and what’s more the clerk at the small store in this Coos County [Oregon] town says he was much distracted by what he called the young lady’s scanty attire. So distracted, he said, that he didn’t see the “Minor until 2007” stamped on her driver’s license. She got the six-pack, and store owner David Cardwell got a $1,320 fine. The clerk had to pay $750.


Cardwell is not denying his employee erred, but says it was hardly fair. “This young woman was dressed in very provocative clothing more suited for the bedroom,” Cardwell said in a letter to the OLCC. “I would not allow my daughter to leave the house dressed in such a way.” He says the law should target clerks and servers, not the owners. “We feel we did everything right,” Cardwell wrote. “We trained (our clerk) correctly. We tested him correctly.”

But Gary Francis, the local OLCC agent who coordinates the stings and hires the decoys, isn’t persuaded. “Maybe he should have been looking at her driver’s license,” Francis said of the clerk. “It was a straight-up deal. By the numbers. No trickery at all.” He said the decoy was dressed in a tank top, attire many woman her age wear.

People who serve or sell alcohol in Oregon are required to card anyone who looks 26 years old or younger, Francis said. He wants the decoys to look like 18-, 19- or 20-year-olds, not a 40-year-old. “We are out there to see who is doing their job and who is not,” he said. He said female decoys can’t wear makeup or doctor their hair to look older. “This guy wasn’t paying attention,” Francis said. “If he would have looked at that young lady’s ID, he would have seen the big red box on her ID that said she was a minor until 2007. “DMV makes it easy. But if you don’t use the tools that the state provides, then you deserve to get caught.”

Cardwell disagrees. “They’re baiting. They’re disguising. They’re camouflaging them. They are trying to create a situation and trying to induce someone into taking the bait.” The store had never been similarly fined before.

“There’s a first time for everything,” said Francis.

Sadly, no photos accompany the story.

While one could certainly argue that it’s a waste of state resources to send out slightly underage decoys to entrap store clerks into selling them beer or cigarettes, the giant red box on the ID cards should serve as a clue. Still, one could imagine the circumstances where a young store clerk would be distracted by a hot 20-year-old in a tank top. And a $750 fine is indeed rather draconian punishment for a first-time offender making minimum wage.

Gone Hollywood

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ICallMasICM says:

    One could certainly argue that itâ??s a waste of state resources to enforce drinking and smoking ages since they have little or no effect.

  2. Steven Plunk says:

    Oregon’s nanny state mentality coupled with it’s heavy regulatory atmosphere has created many state bureaucracies that revel in prosecuting citizens. Hidden behind the claim they are only enforcing the law these quasi-cops love the rush of catching perps and know notches on the belt translate into promotions down the road.

    In the long run all it does is take what is a normally law abiding citizen and turns them into an uniformed criminal. The bureaucracy then reaps the rewards of more money from the state budget.

    Tricks like this are cheap and uncalled for. Everyone makes mistakes, just ask the head of the Oregon Liquor Control who was recently arrested for… driving under the influence.

  3. I was carded a few years back at the Chili’s in O’hare airport. Unusual, but I didn’t think to much of it (I wish, but don’t unfortunately look anything close to 20). Then a man was carded who had to be at least 60 (and rough years at that) and more likely in his 70’s or 80’s). I asked the bartender why and he said they had to go to a card everyone policy because of some police stings. They had some underage people who looked old enough come in and get drinks as part of the sting.

    Since they were told that one more violation would cost them their liquor license (and the loss of the liquor license would likely make the rent paid uneconomical) they went to carding everyone. Even in the case of a clearly of age drinker (I’ll give them me, but you should have seen the old guy). I don’t know how big an issue underage drinking was behind the security lines at O’hare, but my suspicion is that other than potentially spring break and going to and from college that this is not a big issue. Still it is the law and the restaurant was passing the hassling they got from the authorities on to their customers.

    The store probably has surveillance cameras at work. Their defense would be strengthened if they could put a video up on youtube showing a girl with bodacious ta-tas flirting with the clerk and clearly distracting him. The story is not inconceivable. The law is still the law and the police using a sting agent who can pass is not unreasonable.

    But just as I hate those commercials that use beer to sell sex, I don’t like the idea of the police using sex to entrap buyers of beer.

  4. almostboiledfrog says:

    And what is so unusual about draconian punishments being levied against against those least able to protect themselves from them?

  5. Doug says:

    You take this testosterone loaded kid, you place him in the most dangerous job in America, and then you flash a mini skirt and large hooters at him and expect him to do his job. Still, I wonder if he would have noticed if she had a gun.

    I believe the only thing that keeps the OLCC in business is the law against underage drinking. Do away with the law and do away with the need for the OLCC. Does Oregon truly need more bureaucracy? You might think this argument is asinine but consider the laws in Europe were the only thing you need to buy alcohol is the ability to reach the bar. They seem to have far less problems with underage drinking. (truly I’m being facetious but they don’t have a lot of alcohol related problems because they are not regulated as harshly as in the states.)

    Hey didn’t Oregon have a big push to legalize Marijuana? I wonder if she was buying pot would the results have been the same. Pass the bong, baby!!!