The gas station and grocery, located at 1133 S. Wall St., was recently raided by the Gordon County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit, resulting in the arrests of nine people, including Nadir Hemani, person in charge at the time of the raid, and employee, Sarah McFarley.
Charges from the raid ranged from trafficking, sale, possession, and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances methamphetamine and synthetic marijuana. Other charges involving commercial gambling were also involved.
The license, under the name of the owner of the establishment, Rasheed Virani out of Tucker, will not be eligible to apply for another liquor license in Gordon County, until January, pending the board’s decision Tuesday.
Tuesday’s hearing stemmed from a previous meeting in which the board entered a temporary suspension of Virani’s liquor license on Nov. 8. Within the required 17 days to hold a public hearing, the board voted unanimously to revoke the license.
According to Suzanne Smith, Gordon County Attorney, the county pursued several allegations against Virani, outlined in the alcohol ordinance and liquor license laws, in order to revoke the license.
The county called for revocation on the grounds that the establishment committed violations of state regulations, state laws, county ordinances, while failing to report violations to the Gordon County Sheriff’s Department.
Also, conduct and conduction of business on the part of the licensee or his employees were in a manner contrary to the public welfare, safety, health, or morals. Lastly, there was a violation of the state controlled substances act.
Speaking on behalf of Virani, was his attorney, Scott Forster, who asked the board to consider Virani, “a businessman, not a hoodlum,” stating Virani had not visited the store since the investigation into the alleged criminal activity began, which he said Virani had no involvement in.
Detective J.D. Kirby, lead detective of the investigation and raid of the establishment, and Deputy Sheriff and Ordinance Officer, William Daniel, both provided testimony on behalf of the county for the board.
Kirby explained the presence of the drugs seized from the establishment as being very out in the open and accessible.
“We did buy ounces of meth out of the store; it was being sold across the counter, like candy,” said Kirby. “When we did the raid at the store and began the search, it was very clear as soon as we walked behind the counter, it was in plain view. The meth was in a little room on a shelf, as soon as you walk around the counter, there is like a little office area. Then there were two sets of digital scales right behind where you would get a hotdog out of the turner on the counter, with residue on it. The baggies were the same bags, when we bought, that we purchased it out of, they were actually packaging it.”
Kirby also explained Hamani, who was served with 17 warrants during the raid, and is allegedly responsible for most of the criminal activity, is the nephew of Virani.
Virani operates several other stores in the Atlanta area, and has no criminal record, and has been a businessman since 2001.
“If I had known something wrong was happening, I would have never let it happen, because in the last 13 years I have never done anything wrong, not a single thing in my life,” said Virani during the hearing Tuesday. “I learned a lesson from this…I will not let it happen in my life again. This is a very big shock.”
Virani has the option to reapply for an alcohol license at the end of 30 days, however, the board will not reconvene for more than 30 days, leaving Virani without the ability to sell alcohol until a license is obtained.