An emergency suspension was issued for two Tonawanda liquor licenses by the New York State Liquor Authority Thursday morning.
The suspensions apply to the Sheridan Market Inc., also known as the Sunoco on Sheridan, and the Sheridan Liquor Store. Both are located at 1066 Sheridan Drive. Neither location will be allowed to sell alcohol on the premises, effective immediately.
The State Liquor Authority says the liquor store owner, Nasr Mohamed, was arrested on May 5 by Tonawanda Police for sexually abusing an underage employee.
According to reports from the Tonawanda Police Department, Mohamed began pressuring a new 18-year-old female employee to drink shots of liquor one hour before closing on April 7, her first day on the job. The woman then became violently ill from being intoxicated and rushed to a back storage room where she vomited, according to police.
Mohamed allegedly followed the woman into the back room and sexually assaulted her, according to the police report.
The statement from the State Liquor Authority says the victim fled the liquor store and was taken to Kenmore Mercy Hospital where she reported the incident to police. She told police she felt pressured to drink.
Police says similar incidents involving Mohamed have happened in the past. On August 27, 2016, police say another female employee drank to the point of intoxication at the liquor store with Mohamed. The employee lost consciousness and woke up the next morning in her backyard, according to reports. She contacted police after she found bruises on her body that indicated she was sexually assaulted.
Two days later, police say they interviewed Mohamed and reviewed surveillance video. The video showed the victim to be visibly intoxicated and was drinking inside the liquor store with Mohamed. The video also shows Mohamed and the victim leaving the premises. Mohamed confirmed this, telling police he drove the victim home.
Another similar incident occurred on November 24, 2016 inside the liquor store. The State Liquor Authority says the victim in this case refused to cooperate after she called police to report the assault.
"These reports allege a frightening pattern of deviant, dangerous, and disgusting behavior, including claims that the licensee's employees were plied with alcohol and then sexually assaulted," said Counsel to the Authority Christopher Riano. "i want to thank the Town of Tonawanda Police and the Members of the State Liquor Authority for sending a strong message that this reprehensible behavior cannot, and will not, be tolerated."
On Wednesday, the State Liquor Authority reports it charged the Sheridan Liquor Store with seven violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) laws. Other charges included improper conduct to the crime of sexual abuse and unlawfully dealing with a minor, providing alcohol to an underage person, providing alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, and for allowing the consumption of alcohol inside the liquor store on August 28, 2016 and April 7, 2017.
The adjoining grocery store, Sheridan Market, was also given four violations, including improper conduct by manager Nasr Mohamed, failure to conform to their approved application, and for using the trade name "Sunoco" without approval by the Sate Liquor Authority.
Mohamed was charged with sexual abuse, unlawfully dealing with a child, and prohibited sale of alcoholic beverages.