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Utah man accused of running speakeasy from garage

Updated: Tuesday, August 6 2013, 02:18 PM PDT
Utah man accused of running speakeasy from garage  story image

Brady McCombs - Associated Press


SANDY, Utah -- A Utah man who police say ran a
speakeasy out of his garage for years in the middle of a suburban
residential neighborhood has been arrested after he sold drinks to an
undercover officer.

Jared Williams, 33, of Sandy has pleaded not
guilty to the misdemeanor charge of running a business without a
license, court records show. He was arrested on June 13 by several Sandy
police officers who converged on his house.

Police had been
hearing about problems in the neighborhood for some time, but finally
got a specific tip about Williams' house in May, said Sandy Police Sgt.
Jon Arnold. The undercover officer went there in early June and had a
drink alongside about 10 other people.

The man behind the counter
identified himself as Jared and reportedly told the officer he had
started the bar with his father in 2006, show records obtained by The
Salt Lake Tribune. Arnold said Williams had a regular full-time job and
opened the bar in the evenings.

Williams' speakeasy was known as the "Dog Bar," named for a bulldog painted on the garage door.

Sandy
police seized 106 bottles of liquor, 77 cans of beer, a Jagermeister
shot machine, nearly $750 in cash and a cash register, records show.

Police
made the case a priority because of the problems that come with having a
bar in an area where children play and families live.

"Adults can
have parties and hang out. There is nothing wrong with an adult having
an adult beverage," Arnold told The Associated Press. "But obviously,
when you have a bar in a neighborhood, that creates problems. ...
Sometimes people don't make good choices when they are out drinking
alcohol."

Williams' attorney, Christopher Ault, told The
Associated Press that the charge is minor and unworthy of the public
attention it is receiving.

"The fact that is has become some community uproar is interesting," Ault said.

He
declined to discuss any details about what happened because the case is
still playing out in courts. He said he hasn't seen the evidence that
prosecutors have, and doesn't know why more than a dozen Sandy police
officers went to Williams' house to make the arrest.

Calls to a phone number listed for Williams were not answered.

Utah
restricts permits for bars based on population quotas. That's just one
aspect of the state's notoriously strict liquor laws, which are rooted
in fears that easing the restrictions could lead to more underage
drinking and drunken driving.

The majority of Utah legislators and
residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
which teaches its members to abstain from alcohol.

Local police
usually handle these types of arrests and there is no statewide tally,
but clandestine bars seem to be very rare in Utah, said Dwayne Baird, a
spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety.

That may be
because Utah residents take great pride in their neighborhoods and
aren't shy about reporting unsavory activities to police, Baird said.

"If
they hear that some guy has decided to open a bar on their street,
neighbors there are going to say, 'Not in my neighborhood you're not,'"
Baird said. "With the culture that we have here you are not likely to
get away with it."

Utah man accused of running speakeasy from garage
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