When people think of Mormons, if they do so at all, they tend to think of staggeringly dull people like Mitt Romney. Or, if you’re a fan of musical theater you might imagine socially inept clueless people who have no business in Africa. But there is much more to consider. Orson Scott Card is a Mormon. He wrote a fun loving series of wildly popular books, called Ender’s Game, that are based on the government weaopnizing children so they can commit genocide. Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon. She wrote a family friendly set of masterpieces called Twilight that show folks how nice it is to have 100 year old men have sex with teenage girls. Glenn Beck is a Mormon. He writes wildly popular historical tomes that get lots of facts wrong. In his defense, he has noted that facts sometimes get in the way. Now, you may have noticed, that all of these people are popular outside of their community. And, as others have noted, popular doesn’t necessarily equal good. Of course these people could be Mormons in the same vein that Anne Rice is a Catholic. Anyone who’s read her book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt: A Novel, and I pity those who have, knows that she may have skimmed the New Testament and then hit the Internet to fill in some of the gaps.
Nevertheless, like all good religions, Mormons forbid lots of stuff. As with most others booze, broads and boinking top their lists. Brady MacCombs tells us a fascinating story of how the police in Salt Lake City, Mormon capital of thee universe, used their crack investigative skills to stop an impending horror.
A Utah man who police say ran a speakeasy out of his garage for years in the middle of a suburban residential neighborhood has been arrested after he sold drinks to an undercover officer.
Jared Williams, 33, of Sandy has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge of running a business without a license, court records show. He was arrested on June 13 by several Sandy police officers who converged on his house.
Police had been hearing about problems in the neighborhood for some time, but finally got a specific tip about Williams’ house in May, said Sandy Police Sgt. Jon Arnold. The undercover officer went there in early June and had a drink alongside about 10 other people.
The man behind the counter identified himself as Jared and reportedly told the officer he had started the bar with his father in 2006, show records obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune. Arnold said Williams had a regular full-time job and opened the bar in the evenings.
Williams’ speakeasy was known as the “Dog Bar,” named for a bulldog painted on the garage door.
Sandy police seized 106 bottles of liquor, 77 cans of beer, a Jagermeister shot machine, nearly $750 in cash and a cash register, records show.
Police made the case a priority because of the problems that come with having a bar in an area where children play and families live.
“Adults can have parties and hang out. There is nothing wrong with an adult having an adult beverage,” Arnold told The Associated Press. “But obviously, when you have a bar in a neighborhood, that creates problems. … Sometimes people don’t make good choices when they are out drinking alcohol.”
Williams’ attorney, Christopher Ault, told The Associated Press that the charge is minor and unworthy of the public attention it is receiving.
“The fact that is has become some community uproar is interesting,” Ault said.
He declined to discuss any details about what happened because the case is still playing out in courts. He said he hasn’t seen the evidence that prosecutors have, and doesn’t know why more than a dozen Sandy police officers went to Williams’ house to make the arrest.
Calls to a phone number listed for Williams were not answered.
Utah restricts permits for bars based on population quotas. That’s just one aspect of the state’s notoriously strict liquor laws, which are rooted in fears that easing the restrictions could lead to more underage drinking and drunken driving.
The majority of Utah legislators and residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which teaches its members to abstain from alcohol.
Local police usually handle these types of arrests and there is no statewide tally, but clandestine bars seem to be very rare in Utah, said Dwayne Baird, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety.
That may be because Utah residents take great pride in their neighborhoods and aren’t shy about reporting unsavory activities to police, Baird said.
“If they hear that some guy has decided to open a bar on their street, neighbors there are going to say, `Not in my neighborhood you’re not,'” Baird said. “With the culture that we have here you are not likely to get away with it.”
Okay, you can ignore the hyperbole at the end. Instead I want you to note that the owner of the bar admitted to having been in business for 7 years. That’s a long time. And, according to the cop who made the initial bust, there were 10 people in the place when he got his alleged drink.
And, still, they needed to get a tip with an address attached to find this place.
How freaking hard could it have been to find if there’s only one house on the block with ten cars parked in front of it?
My guess is that there’s one of these places on every block and, far from people turning their neighbors in, they’re stopping by for a cold one or two before they head down to 500 West North Temple Street (yes, that is a real address) to hear the Tabernacle Choir.