Bar owner faces felony allegation

Argen Duncan

A Portales bar owner faces a felony allegation that she removed surveillance video requested by a state investigator. Court records show the investigator was looking into charges an underage clerk sold liquor to an intoxicated customer.

Records show Susan Hamilton-Dick, owner of Goober McCool’s Saloon and Spirits, pleaded not guilty to obstruction of the administration of the Liquor Control Act, a fourth-degree felony, and tampering with evidence, a petty misdemeanor.

Hamilton-Dick did not return telephone calls seeking comment. She has not been to trial, according to the records.

The maximum penalty for conviction of the felony charge includes a fine and possible suspension or revocation of Hamilton-Dick’s liquor license.

According to a criminal complaint and an affidavit for a search warrant, both filed by state Special Investigations Division Agent Victor Rodriguez in March:

• On March 26 about 2 p.m., Rodriguez came to Goober’s to conduct a random inspection for compliance with liquor laws.

• As he entered, Rodriguez saw a man buying beer from a clerk he knew to be under 21 years old and to not have a server’s permit. The clerk said she was just a stocker.

• The 26-year-old buyer twice changed his story about who sold him the beer. The man was getting into a vehicle when Rodriguez spoke to him.

• Rodriguez also noticed the man smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot, watery eyes and a flushed face. The man failed a sobriety test, and his breath alcohol test gave results of .196, more than twice the legal limit.

• Rodriguez turned the man over to State Police Officer Noe Alvarado, who arrested him for DWI.

• Rodriguez asked the manager to see the surveillance video, but she couldn’t get into the system.

• Rodriguez spoke to the 19-year-old clerk, who told him she had just been fired and had sold beer to the 26-year-old.

• The manager told Rodriguez that Hamilton-Dick didn’t want to turn over the surveillance videos until she spoke to her lawyer. Rodriguez told her he would get a search warrant for the video and come back.

• Later, Rodriguez and Alvarado returned to execute the search warrant. The manager said she told Hamilton-Dick that Rodriguez was getting a search warrant and Hamilton-Dick came to the package store and took the surveillance video.

• After the manager couldn’t reach Hamilton-Dick by phone, Rodriguez contacted Hamilton-Dick’s attorney, Randall Harris. Harris contacted Hamilton-Dick and told Rodriguez she would bring back the video footage.

• Hamilton-Dick met Rodriguez at the store and told him she took the footage because she wanted to see it first and the clerk knew she wasn’t supposed to sell alcohol. She also said she took the video before he obtained the search warrant and wanted to speak to Harris before releasing it.

• About five hours after first arriving at Goober McCool’s, Rodriguez received a DVD copy of the surveillance footage.