James Graziano is officially the director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control after more than two years as acting director.
Graziano is responsible for overseeing compliance from the 9,000-plus licensees who manufacture, distribute, sell, and serve alcoholic beverages in the state.
The New Jersey Senate confirmed Graziano Thursday.
“Jim Graziano has proven to be a strong, capable leader throughout his tenure as Acting Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control,” said Gov. Phil Murphy in a prepared statement.
“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,” Murphy said. “I thank the Senate for recognizing his stellar work by confirming his nomination.”
Since Nov. 2018, Graziano has overseen numerous initiatives regarding New Jersey’s multi-billion-dollar alcoholic beverage industry. After working with industry representatives last year, Graziano issued a ruling defining the privileges of the craft brewery industry after the uproar that followed a special ruling from his predecessor Dave Rible. This year, he presided over the largest settlement in the history of ABC when a number of wholesalers and retailers agreed to pay $10 million in costs and penalties for illegal and unfair trade practices.
Graziano and ABC have addressed various industry needs during the ongoing pandemic. Among other things, ABC has extended the term of every license and permit, relaxed credit regulations, allowed retailers to return unused beverage stock, and permitted craft distillers to produce ethanol-based hand sanitizer.
The ABC also created a new expansion of premises permit to allow outdoor dining when indoor dining was prohibited and issued 2,500 of those permits last summer. Nearly 1,000 permits have been renewed for the duration of the winter, the division announced.
“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 in a prepared statement.
“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,” Grewal said.
Previously, Graziano was a founding partner of Graziano, Piasecki & Whitelaw in Green Brook, specializing 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.