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Posted on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Deputies take liquor inspections too far at Superior Township party store, attorney claims

By Lee Higgins

Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies have recently conducted “warrantless searches and seizures” at The Party Store in Superior Township while claiming they were part of liquor inspections, the store’s attorney alleges.

Attorney Jeffrey Lance Abood mailed a letter Tuesday to Sheriff Jerry Clayton and other officials to inform them of what he calls “blatant misconduct” by deputies.

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Police have recently conducted several liquor inspections at The Party Store in Superior Township.

According to the letter, the store’s owner, Ziad Abuziad, has been subject to "breathalyzers and body searches," during which nothing illegal was found.

Deputies conducted the searches in front of customers without warrants and without consent, the letter claims, causing Abuziad to be humiliated. The inspections at the MacArthur Boulevard store began Jan. 24, a day after a man was fatally shot across the street at Sycamore Meadow Apartments.

“Not only were these searches beyond the scope of a liquor inspection, they had absolutely nothing to do with the standard liquor inspections or investigations,” the letter says. 

The letter claims deputies are determined to shut down the business for the “sole reason that it is close to a high-crime neighborhood.”

Sheriff Jerry Clayton said this afternoon he will look into the allegations when he receives the letter.

"Our commitment is to improve the quality of life in the community," he said. "We are more than willing to partner with the owner of the Party Store."

Abood mailed copies of the letter to the governor’s office, state attorney general’s office, state Liquor Control Commission and state police headquarters. He attached detailed notes his client has kept regarding the inspections.

The letter says Abuziad is "willing to take a lie detector test in order to prove" the allegations.

It's not the first time police have zeroed in on The Party Store.

Deputies targeted the store during a crackdown on crime in the neighborhood over the summer. Following a drug investigation, deputies obtained an emergency order to suspend the store’s liquor license in August.

That suspension was lifted in November after the store agreed to stop selling liquor at 10 p.m. each night and hire a private security guard to work from 5 p.m. to close.

Attorney Abood said Abuziad told him things had recently been going smoothly.

Kathran Rice, owner of Little Village Learning Center, a daycare center near the store, said Abuziad has cleaned up the place.

"There's no more hanging out in front," she said. "There's no partying going on. It's a lot better than it was."

According to the notes attached to the letter, Abuziad claims things changed on Jan. 24, when deputies conducted the first of four liquor inspections.

During the inspections, Abuziad alleges deputies opened cans of baby formula, frisked employees and searched a jacket hanging in his office.

In one case, Abuziad claims a deputy went inside a bathroom to search it, but Abuziad was not allowed to follow him. When the deputy emerged, he had a small bag with a marijuana seed in it, Abuziad alleges.

In another case, Abuziad claims a deputy gave him a breathalyzer test, telling him the Michigan Liquor Control Commission asks them to give the tests.

Rick Perkins, the MLCC’s director of enforcement, said he was not aware of the commission asking deputies to give breathalyzer tests to licensees.

When MLCC investigators conduct inspections, he said they attempt to remain as "low-key" as possible so they don't interrupt business.

They typically wouldn’t open products in a store during an inspection, he said. In addition, he said they "would not have any objections" to a licensee following them around as they conducted the inspection.

Asked about any recent violations at the store, Perkins said the MLCC received a report from the sheriff's department that marijuana was found there. He said deputies are authorized to conduct inspections on their own.

“We’re not gonna dictate to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department how to conduct their inspections,” he said.

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at



Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 1:22 a.m.

Simple solution to the the allegations?? Lets run back the tapes in the store to see if the officers were acting accordingly. I'm sure they have cameras. It is a high crime area.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 11:20 p.m.

@Cindy, thanks for the link about the bridge card article, I remembere the story, but others might want to read it... also, last year or the year before there was another liquer store in ypsi twp? that was doing the same thing. (swindling a boat load of money out of the state) Often tho they don't just buy stuff with the bridge card not premitted by the state but they sell value of the bridge card for a percentage to get cash (like 70cents cash for $1 on the card, guessing as far as %, maybe more or less). Perhaps they should mandate the bridgecard can not be accepted at establishments that carry no more than 20% of their stock as alcohol. also, about the cops harrassing this business, the other article linked to this article shows how many calls the police came to for this place. A LOT. also, why would post this story without giving more from the PDs side?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 10:30 p.m.

Out of all the commentary, 'a' stands out with the comment of surprise at parents patronizing the daycare nearbye. What an 'elitist' statement. Hope you never suffer any limitations in life "a" or forced to make undesireable decisions due to circumstances beyond your control.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 3:30 p.m.

Awakened - It makes sense that the establishment be available for inspections at any time. However, if the investigators opened products (essentially destroying property) and searched a personal article of clothing without any probable cause, this may cross the line of what is acceptable conduct during an inspection or investigation.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:48 p.m.

MCL436.1217(2)- A licensee shall make the licensed premises available for inspection and search by a commission investigator or law enforcement officer empowered to enforce the commission's rules and this act during regular business hours or when the licensed premises are occupied by the licensee or a clerk, servant, agent, or employee of the licensee. Evidence of a violation of this act or rules promulgated under this act discovered under this subsection may be seized and used in an administrative or court proceeding. MCL436.1211(4) A peace officer or law enforcement officer of this state or a county, township, city, village, state university, or community college or an inspector of the commission is authorized, and it is the duty of each of them, to enforce the provisions of this act and the rules promulgated by the commission within his or her respective jurisdiction. It is the special duty of an officer described in this section to use his or her utmost efforts to repress and prevent crime and the violation of any of the provisions of this act. An officer described in this section who willfully neglects or refuses to perform the duties imposed upon him or her by this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not more than $500.00 or imprisoned in the county jail not more than 90 days, or both. This is why the searches are legal. It took me 30 seconds to find it on the State website.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 2:10 p.m.

How many of the commentators here are willing to say if they have ever been arrested. Then we will get a better idea what might be behind the negative post. Sounds like we have more paranoid citizens than I thought.I for one have never been arrested.

Life in Ypsi

Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 1:46 p.m.

I'm amazed anyone would put their children in a daycare center next to a party store. That store has had problems for years. Obviously the owners of the daycare center are oblivious of this or don't really care.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

What proof is there that the deputies are violiating the Constitution or breaking the law other than than the word of a store owner who has a high criminial drug dealing element hanging outside of his business? oh I forgot inocent until proven guilty...unless you're a cop


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

The deputies are violating the Constitution, to give someone a breathalyzer, is outside the scope of a liquor inspection. The deputies are abusing their power as cops, and from the looks of it they did not have a warrant, they should be fired. These are the same cops that will lie on the stand, same cops that will exaggerate in a police report, same cops that will arrest someone just to make good numbers on their personal records. This proves that the system does not work. I hope an internal investigation is requested by the store owner.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

Amazing how some people will always attack the police for any reason whatsoever reguardless of how much info they have.I bet they have no idea what goes on there


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

Imposters should be dealt with like anyone else. Fire the cops and save the money.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 11:06 a.m.

If this is in fact occurring, don't just send a letter, file a lawsuit. Then the truth will come out during discovery and trial. Unreasonable search and seizure is still part of the US Constitution last time I looked. I agree, this story is one-sided. Is there any security camera footage? We need the other side of the story. FOIA anyone?


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 8:31 a.m.

This is only the Store Owner's version of events. He has a vested interest in portraying the cops in poor light. Didnt do a news story a while back about how this particular store allowed all sorts of illegal shenanigans to go on inside the store as well as in their parking lot? Lets withold judgement until we hear both sides of the story.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 7:36 a.m.

When you obtain a liquor license you waive search rights in your establishment. This is done to prevent illegal activity. These rules have existed since Prohibition was repealed. When drugs were found on the site after tips that they were SELLING the drugs over the counter at this store they came under intense scrutiny by the Sherriff's Department. If they find nothing for a while the inspections will drop to a routine level. It seems everytime someone is caught in a drug crime it is the cops fault. Personally I think marijuana should be decriminalized and sold in liquor stores. But if I were these folks I'd wait for the law to change.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 5:58 a.m.

Shut it down. This guy sells crack pipes. This business is a nuisance.


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 5:17 a.m.

@bunnyalot,it's a state MLCC/federal officals to enforcement/inspect on beer,cigs,etc..Hence ATF..@jcj,no I just know that they went out of they're way,harrasment..if something had happened outside and they (criminals) went inside then,I could see the bathroom inspection/investigation/complaint cause for search!..Did the story say activity outside??..


Wed, Feb 17, 2010 : 12:29 a.m.

isn't this the same place that they found was selling drugs there (or an employee was), was this also one of the stores that was allowing people to buy alcohol, cigs (and cash, drugs?) with the bridge cards?


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 11:48 p.m.

So far we have only heard one side of this story. It does seem to smell. But the jails are full of criminals that "didn't do anything wrong". I would bet that at least a couple of the commenter s have been arrested before! Hence the anti cop attitude.

Homeland Conspiracy

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 11:13 p.m.

warrantless searches and seizures welcome to the new & improved police state... "When the law breaks the law, then there is no law" Billy Jack


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 11:05 p.m.

The Deputies should be fired!!! plain and simple!!


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 10:16 p.m.

Typical cops! They have nothing better to do than harass a business owner?