Columbus authorities say a West Point, Ga., city councilwoman broke two laws by serving drinks made of champagne and orange juice at a bridal shop she owns in Columbus.
After a police officer pretending to be shopping for a tuxedo saw mimosas being served, Judy Wilkinson, 41, was handcuffed in front of about 25 customers around 2:30 p.m. Saturday during a showing at Formal Elegance on Veterans Parkway. A hearing on the charges this morning was postponed until Tuesday after Wilkinson's attorney asked the city to supply a videotape of Wilkinson purchasing her business license at the Columbus Government Center.
According to the Columbus city attorney's office, Wilkinson broke two laws, a city ordinance and a state statute.
The city ordinance states: "It shall be unlawful for any person, corporation, partnership or other legal entity to possess, sell, or possess for the purpose of sale at any business location or transport for the purpose of sale, any alcoholic beverage where the person does not have a valid alcoholic beverage license."
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Says the state law: "No person shall manufacture, distribute, sell, handle, or possess for sale, or otherwise deal in, alcoholic beverages without first obtaining all applicable licenses required by this title. Each person holding a license issued pursuant to this title shall display the license prominently at all times on the premises for which the license is issued."
Police said Wilkinson had neither a city nor a state license to serve alcohol. Assistant City Attorney Jaimie DeLoach said the same laws apply to all Columbus businesses, including beauty salons serving wine to customers.
According to the West Point city clerk's office, Wilkinson this month was just elected to a third four-year term on the Troup County town's council.
Wilkinson's hearing will resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday, when city officials are expected to provide a tape of Wilkinson purchasing her business license. Authorities say she claims a clerk told her she didn't need a license to serve alcohol.
Sgt. W. Gasaway testified in court today that he conducted an undercover operation Saturday at the 6002 Veterans Parkway bridal shop after the Columbus Police Department's Special Operations Unit received a tip that the shop owner was serving alcohol to her customers.
Gasaway said that during his visit he heard Wilkinson ask her clients if they wanted a mimosa. Gasaway also heard Wilkinson ask if there was anyone under 21 in the group. There was and Wilkinson refused to provide an alcoholic drink to that person, the sergeant said.
After a few moments an employee of Wilkinson's handed plastic champagne flutes filled with an orange beverage to shop customers. Gasaway told Recorder's Court Judge Michael Cielinski the beverage smelled like alcohol.
At this point Gasaway identified himself as a police officer and asked Wilkinson whether she had a license to serve alcohol. She said she did not, Gasaway testified, so other members of the undercover unit came in and confiscated 16 bottles of champagne and arrested Wilkinson.