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Investigation Reveals Price Discrimination By County Liquor Board

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Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says an investigation confirms that the Worcester County Liquor Control Board has engaged in price discrimination.

Franchot says the government-sanctioned board has been selling some spirits at below cost to some retailers, but not offering the same deal to others.

Franchot calls the seven-month investigation the most intensive his office has ever conducted, and has a list of unprecedented violations: "Selling the same product on the same day at different prices, selling products to some retailers below the cost allowable under the law, purchasing alcohol from a Washington, D.C.,-based retailer in direct violation of state law."

The price discrimination charges were the most severe, and the chief investigators say they have found no other case in the state's history with similar violations.

And when Liquor Control Board officials come to Annapolis for their scheduled hearing in January, they could face hefty fines.

Yet, local politicians believe a fine would be nothing more than a slap on the wrist and are calling for newly elected State Sen. Jim Mathias to live up to his promise to introduce legislation in Annapolis that would abolish the 75-year-old monopoly liquor board entirely -- a move that Franchot says he would support.

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