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MN bar owner who defied COVID orders, missed court date gets jail sentence

Lisa Hanson ran The Interchange in Albert Lea.

The Albert Lea wine bar owner who made headlines for clashing with authorities over the state's COVID orders — resulting in her eventual arrest — has been sentenced to jail. 

Lisa Hanson, owner of the now-closed Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro in Albert Lea, was found in contempt of court nearly a year ago for keeping her establishment open during Gov. Tim Walz's executive orders — which banned dine-in service at bars and restaurants.

She was eventually charged with multiple criminal misdemeanors, and her legal situation escalated when she failed to show for a March 10 court date. A warrant was issued for Hanson's arrest, and she was apprehended in Iowa in late April after weeks on the lam. 

In a Friday Facebook update, the Interchange announced that Hanson was found guilty of all the counts against her, and sentenced to 90 days in jail as well as "maximum fines":

But the post also indicates that Hanson and her supporters are not backing down. 

"Just because she has been found guilty doesn't mean that this fight is over," the announcement said. "This is now being taken to a federal level...(Hanson's lawyers) will be personally delivering paperwork in St. Paul tomorrow and the hope is that Lisa will be released soon while the appeal process moves forward."

According to KEYC, Hanson's lawyers were not able to file the paperwork due to inclement weather, but plan to do so "first thing" on Monday.

Her legal team is also calling for the disbarment of both the judge and the prosecutor on the case, the station says. 

The Interchange Facebook account has announced a GoFundMe campaign on her behalf. So far, it has raised nearly $36,000 of a $100,000 fundraising goal. 

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