The owner of a farm where a massive Amish drinking party was held in September will not be charged criminally for taking part in the event, or for charging admission to young people who were rounded up in the underage drinking raid.
This past Labor Day weekend PJM reported:
What is being called a “large Amish party” was broken up in Holmes County, Ohio, late Saturday night and into Sunday morning resulting in around 75 adult and juvenile arrests for underage drinking.
According to a report in The Daily Record, concerned parents began calling the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office late last week to let them know of “a large party expected to attract more than 1,000 Amish youth from across Ohio and neighboring states.”
They discovered the party in a massive field along County Road 400 in Hardy Township early Sunday morning.
According to The Daily Record, more than 40 officers from Holmes, Coshocton, Carroll, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties, along with the State Highway Patrol and Millersburg Police Department were involved in the raid. The Holmes Fire Department also assisted at the scene.
Holmes County Prosecutor Steve Knowling said that after reviewing the evidence his office received, he decided to send a one-time warning letter to Clarence White, known as “The Party Pope.”
“It was an appropriate resolution to solve a problem long term,” Knowling told The Daily Record.
Knowling wrote in an October 27 letter to the Party Pope:
It is clear that underage individuals (less than 21 years of age) were possessing and/or consuming alcoholic beverages on your property during this time.
It is also clear and undisputed that you were not only aware of this fact but permitted it to occur. It is fair to state, that underage consumption was in large part, the purpose of the ‘party’ you hosted, and for which you charged admission.
The letter went on to outline what White could have been charged with and warns, “In the future, if the evidence warrants, this office will fully prosecute you criminally if any further such ‘parties’ or similar incidents occur.”
Knowling told The Daily Record his office could also seek a civil injunction to ban such parties if they become aware of them in the future.
“The focus of the law enforcement was on potential drug trafficking or drug possession, and, in the course of that, it became evident there was underage drinking (which prompted the arrests),” Knowling said.
“This situation was a large-scale commercial enterprise where hundreds of underage kids were drinking alcohol. We are not going around looking for it, but when it’s advertised and we know about it, and when someone admits exactly what is going on, we take action,” said Knowling. He added that there were some “facts” that would have hindered successful prosecution, which is why he decided to address White’s role through a letter.
Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly, who forwarded the investigation to Knowling, had asked for criminal charges to be filed against White.
“Nothing good comes from underage drinking,” Zimmerly said. “I think we sent a message. I don’t know, long term, how effective it will be, but I think the short-term message is we won’t tolerate it.”
Thirty-eight adults, ranging in age from 18-20, were charged with underage consumption of alcohol in the September raid. All entered pleas of not guilty or no contest and each was sentenced to a $250 fine, court costs, and 10 days in jail, suspended. Charges were also filed against 35 juveniles, whose sentences included fines and community service.