MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – “Wally the Beer Man” has been acquitted in the case of selling beer to an underage police decoy last September.
The verdict came in Tuesday morning regarding the case of Wally McNeil, who along with fellow beer vendor Ed Stepnik was charged with gross misdemeanor counts following a sting at Target Field last September.
Stepnik, however, was found guilty.
The vendors’ attorneys argued McNeil and Stepnik were entrapped by police and plan to bring out the fact the police supervisor for the sting has been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department for allegedly lying in an unrelated case.
Minneapolis city prosecutor Judd Gushwa countered to the jury that the vendors were chosen at random for the police sting and that Wally was not singled out as a target.
“They were not tricked. They were not coerced. They did it freely and voluntarily,” said Gushwa.
An unnamed juror told reporters that he felt McNeil was entrapped, but Stepnik simply made a mistake.
Judge Pete Cahill ordered Stepnik to pay a fine and court fees of $378, but added Stepnik was just having a bad night.
Stepnik said he was distracted the night of the sting because he was waiting on the results of recent cancer tests. The conviction means he will not be able to sell beer in the future at Target Field.
“I am disappointed in the verdict but life goes on,” Stepnik said.
Reporter Caroline Lowe asked McNeil what he would do differently in the future.
He told Lowe he would card her even though he has known here for many years.
“It is a good day for Wally, a promising sign for baseball in the Minnesota spring 2011,” said Peter Wold, McNeil’s attorney.
Wold said he hopes the company that hired vendors for Target Field will rehire McNeil in time for the Twins’ home opener in April.
The company, Sportservice, said they have no comment at this time.
Marth Holton Dimick, deputy of the criminal division for the City Attorney’s office released the following statement, after the verdict:
“While we are disappointed that we received a guilty verdict in only one of these two cases, we respect the jury’s decision. Underage drinking is a serious issue that too often brings tragic consequences, and that’s why law enforcement and prosecutors work hard to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors.”