‘Operation Swill’ nets $500,000 fine in substitution of cheap liquor for premium

The operator of some New Jersey restaurants raided in May as part of Operation Swill is paying a stiff fine for replacing premium liquor with cheaper substitutes.

The Briad Group, which operates TGI Friday’s restaurants in the Garden State, has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine and not contest charges that customers at eight of its restaurants were not getting the alcoholic drinks they expected.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman says the penalty sends a clear message.

“It provides a tremendous deterrent effect against any establishment who’s thinking about doing anything like this again,” Hoffman said. “So, if this was somewhat prevalent before, it’s certainly far less prevalent now that they know that we’re going in and looking very closely at these issues.”

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As part of the settlement, a compliance officer appointed by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission will monitor those restaurants for the next year to make sure customers are getting what they ordered.

Hoffman expects the penalty for the Briad Group will deter other businesses from defrauding customers.

“We are protecting the integrity of anything that’s purchased in the state,” he said. “So from clothes items to alcohol, we’re going to make sure that when a consumer comes in they have the faith and confidence to know that what they purchased is what they’re going to receive.”

The investigation continues into other establishments that were raided in May.

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