Two Anchorage men illegally sold thousands of bottles of vodka during the last few years in a scheme that intentionally targeted homeless residents, authorities say.
Charges filed earlier this month against Brandon Reed and Andrew Tyone came as the result of a lengthy investigation between the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office and the Anchorage Police Department, officials at both agencies said.
The crime they’re accused of — selling alcohol without a license — is only a misdemeanor. Reed, 59, was arrested and released on $250 bail earlier this month. A warrant was issued for Tyone’s arrest in early May, but the 43-year-old had not yet been taken into custody as of Friday.
It is a crime in Alaska for anyone to sell alcohol without a valid license or permit.
Officials say they began investigating Reed and Tyone in January 2022. But it’s suspected the men may have been selling alcohol for several years before then, said James Hoelscher, the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office’s enforcement chief. The extent of their activity is still under investigation. Court documents indicate that authorities believe Reed was the ringleader and Tyone served as an accomplice in the alleged alcohol sales.
Reed purchased more than 3,500 bottles of Kirkland’s Signature American Vodka from Costco for more than $50,000 since the investigation began, the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office said in a statement. He also purchased water bottles in bulk.
Reed emptied the water bottles and refilled them with vodka, the statement said. He and Tyone frequented Sullivan Arena and other areas where they knew homeless people gathered so they could sell them alcohol, the statement said. Reed and Tyone sold the bottles for about $10 each and authorities said in the statement that they believe they made more than $140,000.
During the investigation, officers saw Reed sell bottles to a number of people in various locations of town, the charges filed against him said. A warrant was issued for his arrest after an undercover investigator purchased two bottles from him in April, the charges said.
Reed was arrested during a traffic stop on May 15, police said.
Reed and Tyone targeted vulnerable people who were homeless or are addicted to alcohol, said Joan Wilson, the director of the state alcohol control agency.
“The volume of vodka this one man and his accomplice allegedly sold to the people experiencing homelessness in Anchorage, at a great personal profit, is staggering,” she said in the statement. “The impact of those sales to individuals and the citizens of Anchorage who want and deserve a safe place to live has yet to be measured.”
Hoelscher, who was an investigator on the case, said in an interview Friday that stopping a large-scale illegal alcohol sale operation like this one benefits the entire community.
“It is my belief that because of these proactive efforts of the Anchorage Police Department and my AMCO investigators, that they may have prevented loss of life, other crimes to include felonies and stopped the excessive (law enforcement) response due to these illegal sales of alcohol in these areas,” he said.
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News Source: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/crime-courts/2023/05/26/men-charged-with-illegal-alcohol-sales-targeting-anchorages-homeless-residents/