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Star-Telegram.com

Liquor store that sold alcohol to teen who died in fire will close

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011

By Dianna Hunt

dhunt@star-telegram.com

FORT WORTH -- A liquor store accused of selling three bottles of vodka to a teenager who later died with five other people in a mobile home fire in Granbury will relinquish its state alcohol permit.

USA Liquor, at 9116 Camp Bowie West, agreed not to fight efforts by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to deny renewal of its state license, officials confirmed Monday.

Under the agreement reached with the state, USA Liquor will voluntarily shut down on March 4 -- just two days before the one-year anniversary of the fire.

Stacey Reineck of Fort Worth, whose 18-year-old son Calvin died in the fire, worked with the mothers of other victims and with state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, to coordinate opposition on Facebook and elsewhere to the license renewal.

Many of her son's friends also joined in the opposition.

"We miss our family and loved ones, and at Christmas, it's hard," she said. "His friends are still grieving, too. We know how this hurts. If we can spare anybody else from having to go through this ..."

Davis said she, too, is pleased with the decision.

"I think their license should have been taken away from them, and I'm pleased that over the long term they won't continue in business," Davis said. "I believe that TABC worked out what it thought was the best approach to getting it shut down."

More sales to minors

Officials said that Calvin Reineck bought the vodka March 5 at the store, previously known as Fuggedaboudit Liquor, before hosting a party at his home in Granbury while his father was out of town.

Nine people fell asleep at the house, and fire broke out in the early morning hours. Three people escaped, but six died, including Reineck; Alexis Schooley, 17; Vivian Rodriguez, 18; Nick Evans, 19; Savannah Marrero, 16; and Tim Moran, 30. Investigators said all six victims had alcohol, drugs or both in their systems.

State investigators then conducted a sting operation and reported that the store owner, James Joseph Buckley of Valentinoz Inc., sold liquor to two minors after the fire, said Carolyn Beck, a TABC spokeswoman.

Buckley, 55, of Grand Prairie, could not be reached to comment Monday, but he told the Star-Telegram in March that he was "tired and exhausted" and wasn't paying attention when he sold the liquor to underage customers.

He was sentenced in August to one year of deferred adjudication and fined $340 for selling or making alcohol available to a minor. He had also been charged with selling alcohol to a minor in 2008, but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct in 2009. Buckley received three months of deferred adjudication and was fined $242 in that case. He completed the terms of the probation and the case was dismissed in December 2009.

Shutting the doors

Beck said state investigators were satisfied with the agreement even though the business will not be shutting its doors immediately. She said proceeding through the state process would likely have allowed the store to stay open later than March.

"We consider this to be a positive outcome," she said.

Family members had been preparing for a hearing Thursday in the case when news of the settlement was released.

Calvin's sister, Celeste, who was injured in a wreck on the morning of the fire, was ready to testify in the hearing, her mother said.

Instead she'll be focusing on Friday, when she is set to graduate from Mesa High School in White Settlement, Stacey Reineck said. She'll be picking up not only her own diploma but one for her brother -- his diploma burned in the fire.

Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084

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