Questions swirl at ABC over store thefts and high-ranking officials being put on leave

A liquor store in downtown Richmond
A liquor store in downtown Richmond(Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 12:46 PM EDT
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Embezzlement occurred at seven stores operated by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority over the last year, according to ABC officials, after employees exploited a vulnerability in the cash register system that was flagged by an internal audit report in September 2022.

The liquor authority’s leadership insists that the audit report went undetected by senior officials for six months and was only rediscovered in February of this year, a claim ABC Board Chairman Tim Hugo recently said he found “perplexing.”

“It’s got people interested — how this thing has been floating around for six months from September to February, and nobody knew,” Hugo, a former Republican delegate appointed to the ABC role by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, said at a board meeting last week.

Questions about that timeline have taken on added significance due to four high-ranking ABC officials who worked in retail and logistics recently being placed on administrative leave, a move that has sparked concern among some in the agency that those employees are potentially being scapegoated for cash register vulnerabilities known to at least some ABC officials in audit and law enforcement roles.

Hugo seemed to draw a connection between the disciplinary actions and the internal thefts in the board’s public meeting before he and others in the room agreed on further discussion of personnel matters should only occur in a closed session.


NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)