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    Off the Hook

    Employee acquitted of selling tobacco to minor.

    DES MOINES, Iowa -- Michelle Hymes, a 20-year-old clerk at The Mart in Danville, Iowa, was acquitted of selling tobacco to a minor in Des Moines County Associate Court. She was cited after a sheriff's office sting operation involving her store and eight others Jan. 9.

    Attorney Danny Cornell said authorities paid a minor to use a fake ID to trick Hymes into selling him a pack of cigarettes at the convenience store, according to The (Iowa) Hawk Eye.
    Cornell also claimed local authorities are under pressure from state officials to cite store clerks as part of a program funded by a multimillion dollar settlement with tobacco companies.

    Hymes testified the ID prosecutors introduced in court showing Kuster is only 17 is not the same one she was shown Jan. 9.

    Prosecutors said Hymes made an honest mistake, but was refusing to own up to it in court and also questioned why police would pull a trick on Hymes when no one else was cited in the tobacco compliance operation. Authorities testified The Mart was the fourth of nine stores visited that day.

    If convicted of selling tobacco to a minor, Hymes faced a civil penalty and store owners also could have been fined.

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