State officials say a Jersey shore bar served cheaper vodka to customers who paid for premium liquor.
The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced Monday that their recent investigation will result in the Laguna Grill and Martini Bar in Brigantine closing for seven days next summer and paying a $20,000 fine.
The establishment is owned by Brigantine Councilman Dominic “Tony” Pullella.
Inspectors say the scam took place from May to September. The charges include serving an alcoholic beverage other than ordered, hindering an investigation by having an employee provide false information to an investigator, and failing to produce complete and accurate copies of invoice slips.
Anonymous tips led investigators to the bar's inventory room, where they said they found a large red funnel and a cardboard sign on a liquor cabinet that read “Only save these vodka bottles. Do not throw any call to top shelf empties out.”
Investigators say that the anonymous tips claimed that Maria Pullella, Tony Pullella's sister, was pouring Burnett’s flavored vodka into Three Olives flavored vodka bottles and pouring Absolut vodka into Ketel One and Stolichnaya bottles.
When investigators questioned Maria Pullella she denied it, but later recanted and admitted the scam dated back to May, authorities say.