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Sting nets adults purchasing alcohol for minors

Posted: Sunday, March 08, 2009

After being cited for furnishing alcohol to a minor during an undercover sting on Saturday, 54-year-old Arnold Jongsma expressed remorse and admitted that he should have known better than to buy beer for a teenager.

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Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

"Now I feel like I'm walking around with pink underwear on," he said.

Alcoholic Beverage Control Board investigators Joe Hamilton and Jeff Brink spent Saturday afternoon conducting an undercover "shoulder tap" investigation with the assistance of the Juneau Police Department, supervising an 18-year-old woman as she asked strangers to purchase alcohol for her outside local liquor stores.

"Our main goal is to get out there and do this to show people there are consequences," Hamilton said.

Jongsma was one of three men who were cited for furnishing alcohol to a minor on Saturday afternoon during the four hours the Juneau Empire spent with the investigators. Furnishing alcohol to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by up to a year in jail and a possible fine of up to $10,000.

Saturday was the first time the ABC investigators have conducted an undercover shoulder tapping investigation in Juneau in several years. The investigators provided the 18-year-old woman with a $10 bill and kept track of how many people she asked to purchase her alcohol as they videotaped the interactions.

Brink said they are trying to send people a message that purchasing alcohol for people under 21 is not acceptable.

"Recently there was an evidentiary hearing about the $10 bill. The argument was that it was entrapment," Brink said. "The judge ruled that considering that there is a $10 bill and they may come away with $3 in change or less, that's not enough of an inducement to make somebody change their mind if they are going to buy alcohol for a minor, so that argument failed by the defense."

Although Brink and Hamilton said they had hoped the investigation would not produce any buyers, the very first person contacted by the underage informant fell for the bait and purchased a six-pack of beer for the woman just after 3 p.m. Ironically, 42-year-old Robert Celedon offered the informant some sage advice.

"I said don't drink and drive," Celedon told officer Jason Vansickle as he was being detained.

"Looking back, do you think you did the right thing?" Vansickle asked.

"No," Celedon coyly responded.

Roughly an hour later the confidential informant was outside another downtown liquor store asking others if they would purchase her alcohol. After several rejections, the informant convinced 39-year-old Clinton Kearney to purchase a six-pack of Alaskan IPA for her.

After receiving his summons to appear in court later this month, Kearney apologized for his actions.

"I apologize you guys. That was stupid," he said.

"Hopefully you learn from this and don't do it again," Brink replied.

Hamilton said the number of citations issued during shoulder tap investigations can vary depending on location of the operation. Last month in Anchorage, an informant contacted 52 individuals in one day, resulting in three citations. The following week an informant approached 30 people, resulting in six citations.

"This is not acceptable and you'll get arrested and go through the system if you choose to furnish," Hamilton said.

The investigators also conduct compliance checks where they will send an underage informant into businesses that sell alcohol to make sure they are not selling to minors. On Friday night, the investigators visited 22 licensed establishments in Juneau, none of which sold alcohol to the underage informant.

The investigators are conducting the undercover investigations to make the Alaska communities safer, Brink said.

"We're out there trying to protect their kids from people who would buy them alcohol. Most of the people who would do this are people with extensive criminal histories, quite often violent criminal histories, so if we can prevent them from coming in contact with those people I think it would be a good thing," he said.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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