The owner and an employee of a Mankato bar are accused of allowing an underage drinking party during the state-ordered indoor dining ban due to COVID-19.
Pierre Habeeb Sadaka, 41, of Madison Lake, owns Charley's Restaurant and Lounge. He is charged with furnishing liquor to underage buyers, a gross misdemeanor, as well as social host and violating the governor's emergency order, which are both misdemeanors.
Meanwhile, an employee, 27-year-old Mario Alexander Barrios of Mankato, is charged with gross misdemeanor furnishing liquor to underage buyers, the Mankato Free Press reports.
According to the criminal complaint against Sadaka, on Dec. 4, 2020, Mankato police officers responded to Charley's on a complaint of a violation of Gov. Tim Walz's executive orders that prohibited indoor in-person dining.
The restaurant's blinds were drawn, but there were "several vehicles" parked in front of the restaurant and in the back parking lot, charges state. When the officer went to the back door of Charley's, they saw the door being held open by an employee.
The officer spoke with Sadaka, who initially refused to let the officer in the restaurant and then claimed he had a gathering of about 20 employees in the restaurant, the complaint says. Later, Sadaka admitted that most of the people were patrons, not employees.
The officer saw two beer pong tables and "significant evidence of a large social gathering, including clear plastic glasses containing alcohol and Solo cups scattered throughout" the restaurant, charges allege.
Sadaka told the officer he was "just trying to make it through this tough period," the complaint says.
In total, the officer observed 20-30 people surrounding the bar with alcoholic beverages; no one was wearing face coverings, according to the allegations.
Some patrons appeared "youthful in nature," charges state, noting all those who were 21 or older showed ID and were asked to leave the restaurant, while eight people were given citations for underage consumption of alcohol.
Sadaka admitted to investigators that he served alcohol to those who were at the gathering, but maintained he checked everyone's IDs, noting the eight underage people must have used fake IDs, charges say.
He admitted that while he and Barrios served alcohol that night, he didn't intentionally service anyone under the age of 21, the complaint states.
One of the patrons who was cited for underage drinking told police that one or two people served drinks. Two others who also admitted to underage drinking told police that no one verified their IDs at the door or before serving them. Police confirmed Barrios was the one who served them.
Sadaka added that he was trying to stay in business and wouldn't make it without incoming revenue, charges say. Then on Dec. 14, 2020, Sadaka acknowledged to police that the restaurant shouldn't have been open but "desperate times call for desperate measures."
On Dec. 18, 2020, Charley's posted on Facebook that it wouldn't be following through with defying Gov. Walz's orders.