The New Hampshire Liquor Commission has fired a retail employee who it says violated policies by improperly completing a large all-cash sale at a state liquor store last month.
That transaction, involving $24,000 worth of Hennessy cognac, is at the heart of allegations being made Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky into wrongdoing by the Liquor Commission.
He’s calling for an investigation into the Commission, citing the state agency potentially “turning a blind eye” to what he’s labeled bootlegging and money laundering practices.
On February 3, 2018, Volinsky says he witnessed two customers inside the Keene retail liquor store divide a transaction into multiple smaller transactions. By structuring these transactions to each be under $10,000, the customers avoided having to complete an IRS reporting form that is intended to combat tax evasion, terrorist financing and illegal drug profits.
Volinky contends that the structuring of transactions, and out-of-state customers shopping at multiple stores in a single day to avoid IRS requirements, are widespread practices, and should be investigated for potentially exposing the state and liquor store employees to lawsuits.
The New Hampshire Liquor Commission says it has policies designed to ensure employees do not violate reporting requirements when processing these large all-cash sales, and that those policies have been reviewed on numerous occasions by attorneys.
On February 28th, the store employee who completed the transaction Volinsky witnessed was fired. Garrett Boes worked for the Liquor Commission for more than 11 years, and was the manager on duty at the time of the sale.
In a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, Volinsky describes Boes as a “whistleblower,” adding that it would be “highly inappropriate for the [Liquor Commission] or any other state agency to target this employee for discipline.” Volinsky did not name Boes in his letter.
The Liquor Commission has criticized Volinsky’s “sting operation,” and said he and State Employees Association President Richard Gulla should not have “allowed or pressured” Boes to continue with the sale “when they knew of the potential personnel actions that could be taken.”
The Attorney General’s office says it is unable to comment on the allegations made by Volinsky while it reviews the documents.