Alcohol violations result in arrests

Alcohol violations result in arrests by M. Jill Sundstrom Alcohol violations at a fraternity house and downtown bar last weekend resulted in several related arrests and citations, according to the Vermillion Police Department.

Fifty-four citations were issued early Friday morning for underage consumption at the Sigma Nu house, 211 East Main, following an undercover investigation that began Thursday night.

�We heard by word of mouth about a party and decided to investigate,� said Police Chief Bruce Plate. �Two informants, both age 20, entered the house at about 11:20 p.m. Thursday and were served alcohol on the premises.�

A search warrant was then obtained and when officers arrived, they found about 150 people in attendance.

Of the 54 citations issued, two were to 17 year-olds, Plate said. One drug arrest was also made.

Sigma Nu officers Dustin Pullman, 23, president, and Darren Johnson, 22, vice-president, were both charged with maintaining a common nuisance, trafficking in alcoholic beverages, furnishing alcohol to persons age 18 to 20, and furnishing alcohol to persons under 18.

�These are very serious charges,� said Clay County State�s Attorney Tami Bern. �The house corporation will also be charged with maintaining a common nuisance.�

Due to suspicious activities in the past, an undercover investigation also took place in September at the Sigma Nu house.

�Judge (Mary Dell) Cody informed us that in order to charge someone with maintaining a common nuisance, there had to be more than one incident observed,� Bern said. �The earlier investigation laid the foundation for the charges from last weekend.�

The Sigma Nu fraternity, along with Pullman and Johnson, also faces judicial proceedings through The University of South Dakota, according to Roger Kozak, executive assistant to the president at USD.

�We strive to assist students with awareness of substance abuse, providing programs to help them make better decisions, but ultimately it comes down to the individual,� Kozak said. �Unfortunately, the (alcohol) problem has been with us for decades. We know it is a problem and we will continue to address it.�

As officers walked back to the police station at about 3:40 a.m. following the Sigma Nu incident, noise from inside the Varsity Pub at 113 East Main, attracted their attention.

�They observed a number of people inside but the door was locked,� Plate said. �The officers knocked on the door, announcing their presence and finally the door was opened by an employee of the bar.

�The bartender said he wasn�t selling beer,� he continued. �But people had brought their own alcohol.�

Four juveniles from the Rapid City and Sturgis area (two girls age 17 and boys 15 and 16 years-old) were arrested for underage consumption. They came to Vermillion after attending the AA girls basketball tournament in Yankton. The bartender, age 24 and two other males, 22 and 21, were also arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

�Someone was also playing video lottery after hours, but we were unable to determine who it was,� Plate said.

Bern does not anticipate charging the owner of the bar, Mark Podandy.

�He was not there and was unaware of the activity that was taking place,� she said.

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