Wally The Beer Man Found Not Guilty

By Caroline Lowe, WCCO-TV

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.”

Comments

One Comment

  1. Jake says:

    Cold Beer here!

    1. snot says:

      Mmmmmmm, Beer!

  2. The Crux of the Biscuit says:

    Doesn’t matter what Mr. Gushwa has to say about the case. Mr. McNeil was found not guilty by a jury of his peers. Case closed.

    1. Webb says:

      is the apostrophe

      1. The Crux of the Biscuit says:

        I wonder how many people we have managed to confuse……

  3. Jay says:

    Congratulations Wally! I wouldnt believe youd sell to underage after all the years youve been a vendor. The old fox is SMARTER than that!!

  4. HWG says:

    Another case of a celabrity being let off. If he sold beer to a minor he should have been fould guilty.

    1. BB says:

      Celebrity? Seriously? A beer vendor a celebrity? You have got to be kidding me.

      1. lilgeneral21 says:

        He is a celebrity…and has his own baseball card and bobble head to prove it. Don’t hate, buddy.

  5. Argonaut says:

    FREE WALLY THE BEER MAN!

    1. Jerry says:

      FREE BEER, WALLY!

  6. Dawn says:

    The real question is whether he will be re-hired. Wasn’t he let go because of this?

    1. Joe says:

      REHIRE WALLY THE BEERMAN!

      1. Jerry says:

        It’s time for Wally The Beerman lll.

  7. Ryan Kane says:

    What is the difference between the two cases? One found guilty and one not guilty, but the story does not indicate how that would be possible.

    The only possible explanation based on this story is that the jury was influenced by a cool name “Wally the Beer Man” and let him off while they guy who is not famous was convicted.

    I sure hope that isn’t the case, but this rather pitiful story gives no other indication as to how that would have happened.

    1. fred says:

      that is exactly the case. fame ruled

    2. Entrapment says:

      The difference between the two cases is that Stepnik never asked for ID or asked the age of the person he sold to. Wally was surrounded by a large group buying and asked if they were all of age (some were in their 50’s). He directly asked the 19 year old if he was old enough and he said “yes”, MPLS police forbid lying about age during a sting. The jury considered this entrapment. Wally admitted selling to a minor, however he challenged the legality of the offense. The jury saw it his way.

      1. mike says:

        thanks for the extra information. that should have been in the above story!!

      2. S.S.C. says:

        I’m glad someone could explain the facts since Caroline Lowe, the “Reporter / Writer” missed that boat completely.
        Thanx Entrapment!!

    3. Erik Ashcraft says:

      Ed claimed he checked the ID of the woman, he testified he did not check the driver’s license date of birth. But he recalled it was oriented horizontally, indicating she was more than 21, contrary to the vertical license police photographed that night.

      Wally, on the other hand, testified he was surrounded by several fans, including Pasquale, and checking identification when he asked the group whether everyone was 21 or older. He claims the group collectively answered yes and everyone was served, including Pasquale, 19, who testified he never was asked his age.

      Stadium policy requires vendors to card all buyers who appear 30 and younger. However, the discrepancy about whether Pasquale was asked his age is critical to determining whether a crime was committed.

      Minnesota law says that undercover alcohol compliance unit operatives can lie if asked whether they are working with the police and as part of a sting operation. But the operatives must tell the truth if asked whether they are old enough to buy booze.

      So if Pasquale said he was 21, he broke the law. He entrapped Wally, and so for that he was acquitted.

      1. Lisa says:

        MN doesn’t have vertical licenses for under 21 or for any group of people. Where the hell did that bit of false info come from?

  8. Jeremy L says:

    Having a zero tolerance policy in these situations is stupid anyway. This isn’t a bar with one door not checking ID’s. If we’re ok with serving beer in the chaos that is a MLB game, then along with that have to come the fact that mistakes are going to be made. One of the 10 guys who end up with a beer out of a batch not being 21 isn’t the same thing as looking a 12 year old up and down, and saying “Oh forget it, here you go Sonny, don’t tell anyone.”

  9. Ed says:

    Wally pushed him under the bus.

    1. Fred says:

      jury bias and corruption

  10. Joe says:

    The NOT GUILTY DECISION was made because he WAS NOT GUILTY. Simple as that. Good for you Wally.

    1. Beer Me says:

      Not exactly—he was and is guilty of selling to a minor. He was aquitted, in part, because of who is, and in part because he asked the kid if he was old enough, and the kid said yes…which is considered entrapment

  11. Terry says:

    We want Wally back, he is the Minnesota Twins, as well as the Minnesota Vikings. Let the man do his thing!!!

  12. Jimmy says:

    Yeah….O.J. wasn’t guilty either.

    1. mouse says:

      Oh,yeah, selling beer to a minor in a ballpark is RIGHT UP THERE with murdering people. Yeah, uh huh.

      1. Jimmy says:

        Wasn’t comparing seriousness of offenses, mouse. Merely stating my disapproval in the outcomes of both, IMHO.

    2. Joe says:

      Yes he was. He was found guily in the civil trial.

  13. Cops are awesome. says:

    Don’t our police departments have more important work to do? I mean if minors drinking at games were an issue, couldn’t the police go to the consessions proprietors and say: get your staff under control; we have reports of minors buying beer from you. Leave it at that, and then go and do some serious police work. It’s really stupid and petty when you think about it.

    1. Todd says:

      Well, if they serve a minor and the minor gets drunk and kills somebody in a car accident the facility is at fault and will be sued, big time. That is why dram law insurance is so high. Do you want a bunch of young kids getting smashed and driving around downtown Mpls? I don’t. I think seatbelt stings are stupid and a waste of cops time but this isn’t.

      1. Todd says:

        And by the way, Wally is a conceded jerk. A friend of mine had his daughters picture taken with Wally at a Twins game and Wally almost demanded a tip. Creep.

      2. Cops are still awesome says:

        I don’t want a bund of human beings no matter what age getting smashed at ball games and flooding out of the stadiums in the Twin Cities to hit the road. It happens EVERY time there’s a game. This was a waste of taxpayer dollars. They could have pressured the consessions managers to get their act together, or if Beer Man was really doing what he is accused of, he could have just been fired.

    2. Awesome says:

      Police Departments are mandated by the state to do compliance checks. I just retired after 26 years, and I can tell you that cops take no joy in messing with someone’s business. I avoided it whenever i could.

  14. Gayle says:

    I think that with all the area at Target Field that if you want to buy beer you should have to be issued a wristband that states you have been carded and that you are legal to buy beer. Other venues do this, if you have a wristband you can buy liquor no wristband regardless of your age once you enter the stadium you cannot. It is ridiculous for these vendors to have to card every person. If you want to have beer get the wristband at the ticket center or service center, or some stand set up for this reason.

    1. Terry says:

      Great Idea! Hopefully there is someone with a brain that will read your comment and move on it.

      1. Jimmy says:

        A. Up to 40,000 people waiting in line to get a wristband? Hope you don’t mind missing half of the game.

        B. You thought $7 for a beer was bad, how do you suppose they offset the cost of enough wristbands for 82 games a year?

    2. Beer Me says:

      If not a wristband(due to the expense, Jimmy) how about a stamp? The vendors could each have the stamp with them and when they check id’s they stamp a hand, and give a beer. It wouldn’t cost much, wouldn’t take any more time to get the initial stamp on your hand, and then the next time you buy a beer from a different vendor you just show your hand. simple enough right?

  15. C N says:

    Looks like the jury fell for the “Free Wally” campaign. Too bad he get swept up in
    some gestapo dragnet to capture under age drinking of watered down 3.2 beer.
    BIG DEAL! It’s just beer. Get over it. Why not go after the under age drinkers? Who knows how many people of legal drinking age buy for minors anyway? What I find to be very unfair, the other defendant was found guilty! So what’s the difference if they both used the same defense? Because Wally is a celebrity of sorts, the other is not.

    1. Todd says:

      Its not 3.2 anymore, they serve regular beer.

  16. zee the reporter says:

    see you at the game wally! zee reporting in!

  17. Anybody remember Karl Peanuts? says:

    It’s really silly. When I lived in Philly in the 80s the police came down on a peanut vendor for shouting Hot Peanuts! Get your Hot Peanuts! Seriously. He was accused of slurring his speach so it sounded like he was saying something else that might offend the Grandmas in the audience. (Use your imagination.) Anyway, they planted microphones all over the stadium and cameras to record people’s reactions to his Peanut hawking. Crazy. The poor old guy was charged with lewd and disorderly conduct to the embarrassment of his family, and was eventually aquitted after a long appeals process.

    1. Dave Munds says:

      Yeah! I do remember Karl Peanuts. Oh my god! It made national news. what was it 1988, if I remember right.

      1. I remember too says:

        It was 1987. Same year the Twins were in the Series against the Cardinals. Karl Peanuts didn’t make much news in Minnesota, but I remember the story too.

  18. If ya ain't got fame . . . says:

    What an injustice. There are a lot of us that work at Target Field that follow all the rules. Why should Wally the Beer Man get off and the other guy didn’t. Poor old man. What about the middle aged man that works every game and to put his kid through sports or special schools or college for that matter. The majority of those selling concessions are volunteers and work like slaves and are trained in the rights and wrongs. Simple to follow the rules. He knew that the MPD did compliance checks at every home stand. Just simply and injustice in our system and makes me question how the jury remained impartial when the other guy was found guilty. Shame on you Wally for wasting our tax dollars . . . I hope you learn to follow the rules from now on if you are ever allowed to serve beer again.

    1. gtV says:

      Cool off man! Your points are well taken but something still smells fishy here. Wally does not or would not knowingly sell beer to minors. Since we were not there to witness this compliance sting against vendors, who are we to say that it was conducted legally and properly?

      We are all human prone to making mistakes; no one is totally perfect. Procedural mistakes can be made on both sides of the compliance issue. Is that what happened here? Probably, so. Law enforcement could have done a better job. That’s what Wally probably was trying to prove. I rest my case.

  19. Erik Ashcraft says:

    Because they were separate events and had separate rational to why they committed the crime.

    Ed claimed he checked the ID of the woman, he testified he did not check the driver’s license date of birth. But he recalled it was oriented horizontally, indicating she was more than 21, contrary to the vertical license police photographed that night.

    Wally, on the other hand, testified he was surrounded by several fans, including Pasquale, and checking identification when he asked the group whether everyone was 21 or older. He claims the group collectively answered yes and everyone was served, including Pasquale, 19, who testified he never was asked his age.

    Stadium policy requires vendors to card all buyers who appear 30 and younger. However, the discrepancy about whether Pasquale was asked his age is critical to determining whether a crime was committed.

    Minnesota law says that undercover alcohol compliance unit operatives can lie if asked whether they are working with the police and as part of a sting operation. But the operatives must tell the truth if asked whether they are old enough to buy booze.

    So if Pasquale said he was 21, he broke the law. He entrapped Wally, and so for that he was acquitted.

  20. gtV says:

    Wally being acquitted is great, but, why was Stepnick found guilty? Will Wally &/or Stepnick get their vending gig back at T-Field?

    This whole case was a snafu from the moment the sting operation started. Law enforcement authorities could have run this op better and more smoothly if they had decoys who knew what they were doing. The whole object of the exercise is to find vendors who consistently and knowingly sell to minors or do not card consistently.

    Wally, would not knowingly sell to a minor nor would he not card anyone who was underage. I know this to be a fact because I was with friends, younger than I was, attending a hockey game at the ‘X’ when we bought beers from Wally. Wally and colleague carded us all! Our average was 32! I was in my late 50’s!

    Let’s just hope Wally gets to continue to sell the local brewskis at Target Field. Twins baseball wouldn’t be the same without the colorful Wally selling his wares.

  21. Joe Mauer says:

    What a crock! I still hope the Twins hold up their suspension!

    1. Kevin says:

      It’s not up to the Twins, it’s up to DNC, the concession operator for the stadium who employed Wally. He admitted under oath that he broke company policy by not carding the minor — I can’t imagine that DNC would re-hire him after that.

  22. Sue says:

    It’s career criminals that need to be stopped, not the hard working people! Way to go Wally!

  23. Vivi says:

    I think Gayles reply would be the perfect answer to whether or not someone is old enough. Have eveyone get in a special line if they are going to drink and get a wristband. Then the beer vendors wouldn’t have to ask everyone and could actually better serve their customers..

  24. Kenny says:

    Was there ever any doubt?

  25. Just like O.J. says:

    If it don’t fit, you must aquit!

  26. EB says:

    Based on the explanation above, I can see how he was not found guilty. But, I also think that he should not be given his job back. He broke DNC company policy by not carding anyone appearing to be under 30. Asking someone’s age is not enough.

  27. GOPHER HOCKEY says:

    LETS GO WALLY!!!!!! GIVE HIM HIS JOB BACK

  28. Allan says:

    Was listening to CCO radio and heard his lawyer speak. What a dummy he is. It’s amazing that he could represent anyone. He could barely speak.

  29. John says:

    With all the technology, couldn’t someone from the PD filmed the sting?

  30. Not concerned says:

    Not surprised he served a minor nor that he was not found guilty.

    He served my underage brother at the state fair several years ago while I was with him.

  31. jtt says:

    Sad to say, but it is true. More of a psuedo celebrity, the guy even has his own trading cards he hands out to giddy men who actually pass on one beer vendor until Wally comes by so they can buy from him. I’ve seen it done many a time…

  32. Beer Ban says:

    Better yet: ban alcohol at games. It should be a friendly family event anyway and that’s not what a lot of games turn into. To hell with it, ban alcohol at games. Solve all problems. No liability for the venue. No sting ops. Beautiful solution. Drink your beer at home or at bars.

    1. woody says:

      better yet you stay home! we dont need people like you at the games. and by the way I take my kids there and they love it.

  33. Rhonda says:

    Every one should be checked at the door as you go through to sets fo doors. If you don’t have a valid ID or old enough make them go through a different line.

  34. yesssir - and we all knew too says:

    Did anyone think ol’ Wally would ever be found guilty by a jury???? Never happen – he’s a local legend.

    Did anyone think that Ed Stepnik would ever be found NOT GUILTY ????
    Of course not – he’s not a celebrity. GUILTY as one can be.
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah – Minnesota Justice. It’ll never change.

    Imagine if they were black or red. Might take’em both to Duluth or Mankato and find a tree and ….. yesssssireeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Minnesota is alive and well. lmfao

  35. John says:

    Can fight a war, but cant drink a beer? Minnesota, Land of 100,000 useless opressive laws.

  36. Nick says:

    I also do compliance checks for another police department in the Metro. I’m 20 and I have had people sell to me at restaurants. The way I was taught, if the person asks your age, we are to tell them to look at my drivers license. I understand why there’s such the support for Wally because of the character he has established for himself. I’m just glad that wasn’t me who he sold to and that I wasn’t on the jury. The other thing we are taught for doing our compliance checks, if it is busy at the time you go in to attempt to make a purchase, LEAVE AND COME BACK! I’m still scratching my head about how MPD handled these purchase attempts. Way to go on doing the checks just days before the playoffs started up!

  37. Gary Smith says:

    It seemed he was entrapped, but I’ll bet Wally will be extra cautious if he sells beer again.

  38. david s hovda says:

    rehire wally
    nthat is not even a question
    111 Y ou do not know how these billioneres operate ( pubilic opinion is everything) with there ticket fiasco , they don’nt need another fiasco. they will rehire him back and give him a purple heart to boot. All pubilic relations bull shxxxx. that is the way the game is played. the fools are in the stands!!!

  39. Bertha Boola says:

    Either:

    1. Sell beer only at concession stands
    2. People must buy their first beer at a concession stand, where their hand would be stamped with a stamp that would change from game to game – just like when you leave a place and want to go back in. Sellers in the stands sell only to those with the stamp.

  40. SOS says:

    This is a case of double standards by he city. HOW COULD ONE BE FINED AND THE OTHER (WELL KNOWN PERSON, WALLY) GETS A NOD TO SELL BEER TO MINORS AGAIN. THANKS!! This is how it’s going to be when you live in a society who takes in consideration of some and not all. I had to pay fines in similar stings as well so that is just a SLAP in the FACE for the other guy….it SUCKS!!

  41. jeff says:

    how could one be found guilty & not the other one? if wally sold beer to a underage person he is guilty, sound’s cut & dried to me.

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