Press Release

Noorvik Man Pleads Guilty to Manufacturing Home Brew

October 23, 2008

(Anchorage, AK) Leon Outwater, Sr., age 41 of Noorvik, entered a guilty plea on October 15, 2008 before Judge Richard Erlich in Kotzebue Superior Court, to the felony of Manufacturing Alcohol Without a License or Permit in a Local Option Area.

Outwater, Sr., a former Noorvik Village Police Officer from 2006-2007, was arrested in July after police were called to the house in regard to an assault. Outwater's 19-year-old nephew reported he had been punched in the face by his uncle when he refused to pay his uncle an additional $10 for the homebrew the nephew had drank.

Noorvik, population 634 located 47 miles east of Kotzebue, is a community which banned the sale and importation of alcohol in 1987.

Outwater is the first person in Alaska to be sentenced under the State's new bootlegging laws which went into effect July 1, 2008. Outwater's sentence was 36 months in jail, with 24 months suspended, a $10,000 fine, mandatory in-patient alcohol treatment, and 3 years of probation. A condition of probation allows a warrantless search of Outwater when he is traveling to local option areas. The new law sets out a minimum fine of $10,000 for a first and subsequent offense and increased mandatory jail time ranging from 120 days for a second offense to 360 days for a fourth offense.

Assistant Attorney General Robin Koutchak of the Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Alcohol Interdiction Unit represented the state at sentencing. Judge Erlich noted Mr. Outwater's desire for change from his alcohol addiction but cautioned Mr. Outwater that wanting change and making change happen were "two different things."

Deputy Attorney General Rick Svobodny said the new sentencing law was in response to villages that voted to ban alcohol. "These prosecutions are an effort to stop alcoholism, and the violence and other social ills that occur in rural Alaska because of alcohol."

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