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NEWARK – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced the confirmation of James B. Graziano as the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”). Graziano, confirmed by the New Jersey Senate, has led the oversight of the state’s alcoholic beverage industry as Acting Director since November 2018.
“Jim Graziano has proven to be a strong, capable leader throughout his tenure as Acting Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control,” said Governor Murphy. “Over the past nine months, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, under Jim’s direction, has been instrumental in helping New Jersey’s food and beverage industry adapt to the ever-evolving health and safety measures we’ve implemented to protect the public and ensure compliance. I thank the Senate for recognizing his stellar work by confirming his nomination.”
As Acting Director of ABC, Graziano oversaw numerous initiatives to protect the health and safety of New Jersey residents and ensure the stability of New Jersey’s multi-billion-dollar alcoholic beverage industry.
Last year, after meeting with, and soliciting input from, industry representatives, Graziano issued a ruling further defining and expanding the privileges of the craft brewery industry. This year he presided over the largest settlement in the history of ABC when a group of wholesalers and retailers agreed to pay $10 million in costs and penalties for illegal and unfair trade practices.
Under Graziano’s direction, ABC continues to investigate and prosecute the small number of licensees who over serve patrons resulting in accidents that cause death or serious injury. This year, ABC has revoked licenses or levied hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties to deter this dangerous conduct.
During the COVID-19 state of emergency, Graziano and ABC turned their attention to the needs of the industry and in quick succession, among other things, ABC extended the term of every license and permit, relaxed credit regulations, allowed retailers to return unused beverage stock, and permitted New Jersey’s craft distillers to produce ethanol based hand sanitizer. Under his direction, ABC created a new expansion of premises permit to allow outdoor dining when indoor dining was prohibited and issued 2500 of those permits last summer. Almost 1,000 permits have been renewed for the duration of the winter.
“During his time as Acting Director, Jim has earned the respect of industry stakeholders, municipal leaders, and law enforcement alike by working hard to ensure that New Jersey’s alcoholic beverage industry is able to thrive within the regulatory framework that keeps our communities safe and healthy, and by taking appropriate action against licensees who flout the law,” said Attorney General Grewal. “His efforts to promote public safety – particularly during the COVID-19 health emergency – has made Jim an invaluable member of the Department of Law and Public Safety and we look forward to his continued service to all who live, work, or visit our State.”
As head of ABC, Graziano is responsible for overseeing compliance among the more than 9,000 licensees who manufacture, distribute, sell, and serve alcoholic beverages in the state. He also oversees the investigations of violations of the ABC law, which are conducted by the ABC’s Investigations Bureau.
“It has been an honor to serve at ABC, particularly during these very difficult times, and I am grateful for opportunity to continue serving the people of New Jersey,” said Director Graziano. “Under the leadership of Attorney General Grewal – and with the assistance of the dedicated prosecutors, investigators and support staff at ABC – I will work hard every day to ensure public safety and promote fairness for all in New Jersey’s alcoholic beverage industry. I thank the Governor for his support, and the Senate for confirming my appointment.”
Prior to joining ABC, Graziano was a founding partner of Graziano, Piasecki & Whitelaw in Green Brook, where he specialized in civil litigation involving personal injury and employment claims. He also served as a municipal court judge in Metuchen Borough and formerly served as the attorney for the Metuchen Parking Authority.