Attorney General Platkin Announces the Retirement of Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director James Graziano

For Immediate Release: March 28, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General

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TRENTON  Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced the retirement of James B. Graziano after serving more than five years as the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

“Jim Graziano has been an exemplary public servant and led ABC through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the industry with professionalism and fairness,” said Attorney General Platkin. “I congratulate him on an outstanding career, and wish him the best in his retirement. With his departure, I am pleased to announce that Deputy Director Kirstin Krueger will assume the role of Interim Director. Kirstin has a deep understanding of our alcoholic beverage laws, and brings with her experience as a government attorney for the State and the mindset of a former prosecutor. I am thankful to her for stepping up to lead ABC at this time.”

“I have been fortunate throughout my career to work with great people, and I am particularly happy to have spent the last chapter working alongside the dedicated staff members of ABC,” said Director Graziano. “It has been my honor to serve the state as Director of the ABC to regulate an ever-changing alcoholic beverage industry through creative and innovative means. General Platkin has been a terrific partner, and it has been a pleasure working with the Attorney General and his staff.”

Director Graziano led ABC through the COVID-19 pandemic and assisted with the implementation of Governor Murphy’s lifesaving mitigation efforts followed by the reopening of dining and restaurant establishments by facilitating outdoor dining, expanded premises service, and cocktails-to-go.

During his time in State service, Graziano oversaw changes to the state ABC Act, which adapted to the needs of licensees, including craft breweries. Other changes included the creation of new permits including the Professional Golf Tournament Permit and a Third-Party Delivery Permit, which allow authorized entities permittees to deliver alcoholic beverages to consumers’ residences on behalf of retail consumption licensees and retail distribution licensees.

And in June 2021, Director Graziano collaborated with the Attorney General to issue a Special Ruling that formally vacated all ABC enforcement actions that systematically targeted gay bars between 1933 and 1967. The Special Ruling applied to at least 126 actions identified in previous ABC Bulletins. Following that action, Director Graziano implemented mandatory anti-bias training for ABC employees to help to root out implicit bias in the Division.

He also advanced ABC’s relationships with external stakeholders. In 2023, for instance, ABC Investigations Bureau partnered with municipal police departments and other law enforcement agencies to conduct joint investigations and compliance inspections to address complaints of unsafe practices in licensed establishments. These joint operations involved licensees implicated in narcotics, illegal weapons, or human trafficking.

Graziano was appointed by Governor Murphy to serve as Acting Director of ABC in November 2018. He was confirmed by the New Jersey Senate as Director in December 2020. Prior to joining ABC, Graziano was the attorney for the Metuchen Parking Authority and served three years as municipal court judge in Metuchen Borough. He was a founding partner at Graziano, Piasecki & Whitelaw in Green Brook, where he specialized in civil litigation involving insurance, personal injury and employment claims.

ABC Deputy Director Krueger will begin serving as Interim Director on April 1, 2024. Krueger began her career in the Department of Law and Public Safety as a Special Assistant and then Counsel to the Attorney General in 2019; she was appointed to her current role as Deputy Director in 2023. She had previously served as a prosecutor with the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor in New York City and the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office in Staten Island. She holds a J.D from Brooklyn Law School. As Deputy Director, Krueger is responsible, among other things, for overseeing the investigations and enforcement work of ABC, including coordination with municipal and State law enforcement agencies.