City council member arrested for serving alcohol - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

City council member arrested for serving alcohol

Judy Wilkinson (on the left)  was arrested Saturday in front of customers at her Formal Elegance bridal shop on Veterans Parkway. Judy Wilkinson (on the left) was arrested Saturday in front of customers at her Formal Elegance bridal shop on Veterans Parkway.

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Columbus Police say they had received several complaints about alcohol being served inside a North Columbus bridal shop without the proper licensure.

 So this weekend, an undercover officer went into Formal Elegance on Veterans Parkway to investigate, pretending to need a tuxedo.

While inside, he says he watched as several customers were served mimosas- an orange juice and champagne combination.

Members of the Special Operations Unit were called in and found 16 bottles of champagne. The shop's owner, Judy Wilkinson was arrested for serving alcohol without a city or state license- misdemeanor offenses.

Police say Wilkinson told them she didn't know she was doing anything wrong. She says when she got her business license, the staff at that office told her she could serve alcohol.

But in court Monday, police provided a copy of her business license to the judge, showing where it was checked that Formal Elegance would not be serving alcohol.

Wilkinson, who is also a current member of West Point's City Council, has filed a complaint with the Columbus Police Department, saying her arrest in front of customers and ride in a marked cop car caused her public embarrassment.

Police say according to the law, alcohol could not be on the premises nor could it be sold or given away without a license.

Judy Wilkinson's attorney tells WTVM his client is not guilty of any wrongdoing because she trusted a city employee to help her fill out her business license application.

Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren says the department will investigate Wilkinson's complaint as they do with every complaint they receive.

He says she will be notified when their investigation is complete.

**UPDATE:Judy Wilkinson’s hearing has been continued to Wednesday at 8am in Columbus Recorder’s Court. Her and her lawyer are looking at surveillance footage of her in the city’s business license office. The video was too distorted to view in court Tuesday morning. Officials with the City Attorney’s Office told the judge the footage isn’t relevant to the case but Wilkinson’s attorney says it will show she tried to fill out her license as best she could.

 

Off camera, her attorney, Benjamin Wilcox, tells News Leader 9 he thinks his client has been singled out and wants the charges dismissed. He says the section of the city’s alcohol ordinance she is accused of violating is one that many people and businesses are not aware of. The ordinance was amended by Columbus council in March of 2009.

 

Section 3-20(d) of the Columbus Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance establishes grounds for penalizing anyone operating without a valid alcoholic beverage license.

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