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Liquor crackdowns target underage buyers, consumers

Ashly Renee Domeier

A Park Rapids teenager appeared in Hubbard County District Court Monday morning, the second person to be charged under the county's year-old social host liability law.

The county's crackdown on underage drinking and alcohol sales continues, with five convenience store clerks all being cited after a summer sting operation in which an underage decoy allegedly bought alcohol. In all, seven have been charged.

Ashly Renee Domeier, 18, was charged after she invited a number of friends to her stepfather's home Oct. 8 to celebrate her 18th birthday, the criminal complaint states. The homeowners were out of town at the time.

"Domeier provided the alcohol for the party," the ­­­complaint states. "All the minors were cited for underage drinking."

Officers were called to the Discovery Circle home at 4:40 a.m. for a report of an unresponsive female.

The complaint states Domeier's alcohol content was .122 percent. Another student, Caleb Abraham, 18, tested at .184 percent and was cited.

Three 17-year-olds had alcohol contents ranging from .064 percent to .10 percent. All five were cited for underage consumption and are students at Park Rapids Area High School.

Two of the guests were treated at St. Joseph's Area Health Services for acute alcohol toxicity, but authorities would not release the names of the two transported.

Domeier is charged with the social host violation, Furnishing Alcohol to Minors and underage consumption. She asked for an application to receive a public defender. Her next appearance is Dec. 19.

The furnishing charge is a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 1 year and/or a $3,000 fine upon conviction. The other two charges, misdemeanors, are each punishable by a maximum of 90 days and/or a $1,000 fine upon conviction.

The raid on the party was one of two this fall aimed at curbing underage drinking. A raid at a Nevis party in November produced a number of citations for underage drinking, but no social host violation because there was no one over 18 at the party and the homeowners didn't know the party was taking place, Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said.

Meanwhile five more convenience store clerks were recently charged in an undercover sting operation conducted last summer.

An underage decoy one month short of her 21st birthday, accompanied by a Park Rapids police officer and a Hubbard County deputy, made the rounds of several local and rural convenience stores in June and July, where she purchased beer. All the clerks were cited for the sales and have recently appeared in court. Under Minnesota law, establishments are not charged. The employees are:

n Thomas Allen Bosell, 46, Park Rapids, a clerk at Petro Pete's in Park Rapids;

n Heather Dawn Leitch, 46, Laporte, a clerk at Itasca Junction in Lake Alice Township;

n Steven Wayne Makarrall, 56, Laporte, a bartender at The Popple Bar;

n Justin John Miller, 18, Laporte, an employee at Millers Back Door Liquor in Laporte;

n Virgil Dwayne Wiekamp, 47, Park Rapids, an employee of Foxy's Bar & Grill in Arago Township.

All were charged with Selling Alcohol to a Minor, a gross misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 1 year and/or a $3,000 fine upon conviction.

Generally, the clerks have been fined $500 and placed on probation two years if they have no prior criminal records. If they remain law-abiding over the next two years, the charges will be dismissed.

The compliance checks have been unpopular with clerks, establishments and even some within law enforcement, who maintain using a decoy almost legal age, or using decoys that look much older than their years, is unfair.

In three of the cases, clerks carded the decoy and then made the sale.

Two clerks did not ask for identification before selling the beer, according to the criminal complaints.

At The Popple Bar, the complaint stated the decoy carried out Coors Light beer in an O'Douls carton. O'Douls is a non-alcoholic beverage.

The compliance checks will continue, Dearstyne maintained. He said they are sending a message to alcohol vendors.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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