A deadly Halloween-night crash wasn’t the first time a Long Beach liquor store owner had been accused of providing alcohol to a minor, but it was certainly the most high-profile.
When a young man was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk and killing a family walking by Los Cerritos Park on Oct. 31, authorities say they immediately started trying to find out where he got the liquor.
As friends grieved the loss of Joseph Awaida, Raihan Dakhil and their 3-year-old son, Omar, investigators homed in on Green Diamond Liquor, a small store that still had a “Grand Opening” banner hanging over the door on Long Beach Boulevard near Market Street.
That’s where 20-year-old Carlo Navarro walked out with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on Halloween after promising to come back later and pay for it, according to Navarro’s defense attorney.
Later that night, Navarro was arrested on suspicion of hitting the Awaida family at more than 70 mph. Detectives allege Navarro admitted he’d downed four to five shots of the whiskey before getting behind the wheel.
This week, police also arrested 56-year-old Amor Potestades Amacio, saying she provided Navarro the bottle of Jack Daniel’s at Green Diamond.
This wasn’t the first time he’d gotten liquor at the store, authorities said. Navarro bought alcohol there many times before, one investigator told CBS2.
This also wasn’t the first time Amacio was accused of letting alcohol get into the hands of an underage customer, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
Records show Amacio ran another store on Long Beach Boulevard, Eddie’s Market & Liquor, until its alcohol-sales license was revoked.
In 2012, Eddie’s was accused of furnishing liquor to minors and Amacio agreed to settle the case by paying a $2,493 fine. The store, however, continued to operate until Amacio again ran afoul of the law in 2018.
In May, that year, the ABC suspended and later revoked Amacio’s license for trafficking CalFresh food assistance benefits along with committing computer fraud and transaction theft, according to ABC spokesman John Carr.
That same month, Amacio was convicted in criminal court on similar charges. She pleaded guilty to one count welfare fraud and had a dozen other counts of computer fraud and transaction theft dropped, court records show.
The details of that case weren’t immediately available, but records indicate she was sentenced to five years of probation.
Despite the conviction, authorities allege Amacio wasn’t out of the liquor store business for long.
In April, Amacio’s daughter got an alcohol-sales license for Green Diamond less than two blocks from where Eddie’s had closed, according to ABC.
Although the daughter was listed as the license-holder, authorities apparently believe Amacio was involved in running the store.
On Wednesday, the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s office charged Amacio with operating the store without having her own liquor license, furnishing alcohol to Carlo Navarro, defrauding the state of sales tax and voiding a transaction for purposes of defrauding the state of sales tax.
All of the charges against Amacio are misdemeanors and could carry a total penalty of up to two years in jail, according to the prosecutor’s office. Authorities said they may also seek to suspend or revoke Green Diamond’s alcohol license.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether it would try to prosecute Amacio for violating her probation.
Since being arrested on the misdemeanor charges, Amacio has pleaded not guilty and was freed after posting bond on $100,000 bail, court records show. Her attorney didn’t respond to messages Thursday.
Navarro is being held without bail while he awaits trial on three counts of murder and three counts of vehicular manslaughter for the Awaida’s deaths. He’s pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.
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