SID Arrests Local Servers Friday Night During Alcohol Compliance Sweep

By Carol A. Clark

Allowing themselves to be distracted for an instant Friday night, landed two local restaurant servers in jail.

Jason Minturn and Holly Mechels were arrested during an alcohol compliance sweep conducted by members of the Special Investigations Division (SID) of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

“We visited 11 establishments in the Los Alamos area and arrested servers at the Conoco Gas Station and Deli adjacent to the Hilltop House Hotel and the Blue Window Bistro,” said Lt. Chris Ortiz of SID in Santa Fe.

Minturn, 23 was arrested at the Conoco Gas Station and Deli and charged with selling alcohol to an underage operative.

“We had to fire Jason,” owner Ron Selvage said. “Our policy is that if someone serves alcohol to a minor they don’t work here anymore. I know that’s harsh but we have to get across to people how important it is to card the customers.”

Minturn worked at the Conoco Gas Station and Deli for about two years, Selvage said.

Mechels, 43, was arrested at the Blue Window Bistro and charged with selling alcohol to an underage operative. Following Mechels’ arrest, Melissa Paternoster, owner of the Blue Window Bistro, spoke of the strict alcohol compliance policy she established upon purchasing the Bistro in June 2010.

“Serving to minors and over serving are the two things I take more seriously than anything else,” Paternoster said. “My employees have all gone through the training and I can’t even express how completely disappointed I am. Alcohol and gaming should be able to come in here every day and 10 times a day and we should be in compliance every single time. Holly is no longer an employee and this needs to serve as a reminder that we can’t let our guard down for even a minute.”

Mechels worked at the Blue Window for 18 months, Paternoster said, adding that she has served alcohol in establishments for 30 years and “even though Friday was an extremely busy night, that is no excuse to serve to minors.”

Mechels and Minturn are each facing fourth degree felonies.

“They’ll receive felony referrals to the District Attorney’s Office, who will determine whether to pursue felony charges against them,” Ortiz said.

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