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Beer Bust: Drinking on the Job

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    They’re supposed to be delivering the alcohol, not consuming it. See what we caught on camera when we followed delivery crews from Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control. (Published Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014)

    Government employees drinking and driving on the job. The News 4 I-Team has the video to prove it.

    But these aren’t just any type of government employees, because beer is their business.

    With their distinctive blue trucks, it's hard to miss the men who deliver the alcohol in Montgomery County, Maryland.

    Every beer you drink in the county comes from the county’s government controlled warehouse, which delivers an estimated 3.5 million cases to nearly 1,000 businesses each year.

    Beer Bust: See It for Yourself

    [DC] Beer Bust: See It for Yourself
    RAW VIDEO: See more video of those Styrofoam cups and the alcohol going into them.
    (Published Monday, Nov. 10, 2014)

    Each truck has a specific route, a driver and what's called a "helper."

    When they unload the beer, these guys work hard. For weeks, the News 4 I-Team followed the county's beer trucks as part of a different story, but then the I-Team discovered something even it didn't expect.

    The I-Team couldn't help but notice how the guys in Truck 81 take a lot of breaks to eat, sleep and even go inside a private home, while their truck sat unattended on the side of a main road.

    And then the I-Team spotted the Styrofoam cups. They bought them almost every day the I-Team watched them.

    Why should you care about a couple of cups?

    Because after an early morning delivery to a county-owned liquor store, the I-Team caught on camera Truck 81’s helper walk out of the store with a long bottle in a brown bag.

    Later that morning, during another delivery, our cameras recorded him pouring the contents of that bottle into his cup and stirring.

    A few minutes later, the driver did the same thing before getting back on the road.

    Days later the I-Team spotted the same truck and the same driver. But this time a different helper threw away a white plastic bag into a dumpster at the end of their route but before they drove back to the warehouse.

    The I-Team pulled the bag out of the dumpster and found two large empty wine bottles.

    On yet another day, the I-Team watched the original helper walk out of a privately-owned store in Germantown with four bottles in a small box. Inside the store, the I-Team found similar looking boxes containing small bottles of white wine.

    That’s when the I-Team decided to start asking questions. News4 I-Team reporter Tisha Thompson approached the driver after he finished a delivery behind a restaurant in Gaithersburg.

    "Hi there, I'm Tisha Thompson with the News 4 I-Team. I wanted to talk to you a second. I wanted to know why the two of you have been drinking while you're in a government vehicle?"

    The driver nodded towards the helper and said, “He's been drinking, not me."

    Thompson turned to the helper and said, “He says you've been drinking in a government vehicle and not him."

    The helper responded, "Who’s been drinking?"

    Thompson said, “You have.”

    He quickly said, “No.”

    That’s when Thompson told him, “We’ve got video of the two of you pouring alcohol into Styrofoam cups."

    The helper started walking back into the store as he said, "No you didn't of me."

    Thompson offered to show him the video on the iPad she was carrying. “Want to see the video? I've got video of you taking a bottle of alcohol and pouring it into a Styrofoam cup."

    The helper paused and asked, "Me?"

    Thompson said yes and offered to show him again, “You want to see it? I've got it right here.”

    But instead of watching the video, both men went inside the restaurant. The helper reappeared a few seconds later to grab a Styrofoam cup out of the cab of the truck.

    That’s when Thompson asked, "You got empty bottles in there?"

    The helper said, "No we don't," before going back into the restaurant.

    We never saw the cup again. When they reappeared again, Thompson asked the driver, “Can I show you the video?” He told her, “I don’t want to see no video.”

    Instead, they packed up and drove away.

    George Griffin is the Director of Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control. When we showed him the video of what we saw, he said, “Their job is to deliver it, not consume it."

    As he watched the video, he explained, “It appears from this that two of our county employees are consuming alcohol while they're operating a county vehicle, which is obviously against all administrative procedures in the county. I mean that's a slam dunk."

    Griffin said he's also concerned about the naps, the long breaks and how the men left thousands of dollars’ worth of alcohol unattended on a public street.

    When we asked if any of those activities are allowed, he said, “No, it’s outrageous.”

    Griffin later said after he left the I-Team interview, he immediately pulled both men off the street and put them on administrative leave pending an investigation. He said while he can’t comment on personnel actions against specific employees, he could say “drinking on the job is widely seen as grounds for dismissal without fail.”