The hearing on the charges against a West Point, Ga., city councilwoman who authorities allege illegally served alcoholic beverages at a bridal shop she owns in Columbus was postponed Tuesday for a second time.
According to the Columbus city attorney’s office, bridal shop owner Judy Wilkinson, 41, broke two laws, a city ordinance and a state statute.
The city ordinance says it’s illegal “for any person, corporation, partnership or other legal entity to possess, sell, or possess for the purpose of sale at any business location ... any alcoholic beverage where the person does not have a valid alcoholic beverage license.”
The state law says no one may “manufacture, distribute, sell, handle, or possess for sale, or otherwise deal in alcoholic beverages” without first obtaining “all applicable licenses required by this title.” It further states that once a license is obtained, the business owner “shall display the license prominently at all times on the premises.”
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Wilkinson maintains she was told by a clerk at the Columbus Government Center she didn’t have to obtain a liquor license if she wanted to serve alcohol at her business.
Wilkinson’s attorney asked the city to supply a videotape of his client purchasing her business license. He says the video will show Wilkinson twice went to the Government Center to ensure she had properly filled out her application and that she was being honest and upfront about her intention to serve alcoholic drinks at her store.
The video supplied by the city was played for Recorder’s Court Judge Michael Cielinski during court proceedings Tuesday morning, however, the picture was too fuzzy and distorted to determine if the person on the screen was Wilkinson.
This discovery prompted Cielinkski to push the hearing to Wednesday at 8 a.m., giving the city 24 hours to supply a clear and conclusive video to Wilcox and the court.
Columbus Police Sgt. Williams Gasaway with the police department’s special operations unit testified Monday that he conducted an undercover operation Saturday at Bridal Elegance located at 6002 Veterans Parkway after getting a tip that the owner was serving alcohol.
Gasaway said that during his visit he heard Wilkinson ask her clients if they wanted a mimosa — a drink made with champagne and orange juice. Gasaway said he also heard Wilkinson ask if anyone younger than 21 was in the group. There was and Wilkinson did not provide alcohol to any underage customer, the sergeant said.
One of Wilkinson’s employees gave out plastic champagne flutes filled with an orange beverage that smelled like alcohol, Gasaway told Cielinski. The sergeant said he then identified himself as a police officer and asked Wilkinson whether she had a license to serve alcohol. She said she did not, so other members of the undercover unit came in, confiscated 16 bottles of champagne, and arrested Wilkinson, Gasaway said.
Wilkinson has filed a complaint with Capt. Bill Turner, who heads the police department’s special operations unit.
If found guilty of operating without an alcohol license, Wilkinson could face up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.