Valdez, AK – Valdez Police Department officers arrested two adults and issued two additional criminal summons following investigation of an underage alcohol and marijuana house party on February 17th.
On February 17th at approximately 10:40 p.m., a parent made a telephone complaint to the Valdez Police Department, reporting their 14-year old son had been picked up from an underage drinking party in a residence at 620 Cottonwood Drive. The parent brought their intoxicated minor son to the police department to speak with officers.
During that discussion, the minor disclosed his parent believed he was staying at a friend’s house for the evening. Instead, he, a 15-year old friend, and two 14-year old friends went to a 17-year old friend’s residence around 6:00p.m.to attend an underage drinking party. He stated there were three adults present in the home at the time, later identified as 22-year old Lawrence D. Ashouwak, 21-year old Demie J. Lemmon, and the homeowner, 54-year old David Sapp. The minor disclosed he and his friends drank alcohol and smoked marijuana while at the party.
Following interviews of the minors present at the party, police investigators determined the 17-year old contacted an unknown person via cell phone to purchase the group alcohol. After 30 minutes, an adult, later positively identified as Ashouwak, arrived at the residence and delivered a bottle of liquor. The group of teens then began drinking the alcohol, playing “beer pong”, and watching television. The group also reportedly smoked marijuana out of a bong. Two additional underage friends “stopped by” the party, but did not participate in alcohol or marijuana consumption.
Both the teens and the adults present in the residence that evening confirmed Sapp observed the juveniles drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana in his home. They explained he appeared angry about the situation, but took no action to stop the teens’ behavior.
“Parents are ultimately responsible for the well-being and safety of their children and those visiting their home,” stated Sgt. Chad Clements, VPD lead investigating officer on the case. “If adults witness underage alcohol or marijuana use and do nothing to stop or report the consumption, they are just as, if not more culpable in the situation.”
On February 20th, Valdez police officers arrested Ashouwak for eight misdemeanors, including four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and four counts of furnishing alcohol to under 21. Ashouwak was remanded to Valdez Regional Jail and released the same day on his own recognizance per the bail schedule. General conditions of release apply, which include no contact with any of the individuals involved in the situation. Ashouwak was ordered not to return to 620 Cottonwood Drive.
Valdez Police Department also served a search warrant on the Sapp residence on February 20th. During service of the warrant, officers discovered marijuana and alcohol containers in the 17-year old resident’s bedroom.
Officers contacted Lemmon who was present during the warrant search. Lemmon admitted she consumes marijuana regularly and explained Sapp, her landlord, is aware of her choice to smoke. Lemmon stated she was present at the teen party on February 17th for approximately 10 minutes. She explained she observed the minors smoking marijuana, did nothing to stop them, nor instructed they should not be consuming the substance while underage. She further admitted she owned the bong used by the group of minors.
Additional evidence of criminal offenses by Ashouwak was found during the warrant search. A local store also yielded video and other evidence of Ashouwak purchasing alcohol on February 17th in violation of his “alcohol not to buy” status and probation conditions related to an Anchorage district court disorderly conduct case.
Valdez police officers arrested Sapp February 23rd on five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, all misdemeanor offenses. Sapp was remanded to Valdez Regional Jail and released the same day on $250 bail. Pending arraignment, no alcohol or marijuana is allowed in Sapp’s residence, Sapp may not purchase or possess marijuana, and there may be no minors in his residence except his daughter.
On February 24th, VPD officers served Ashouwak a criminal summons for four additional misdemeanors, including two counts of purchase of alcohol by a restricted person, one count of furnishing alcohol to under 21, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The same day, officers also served Lemmon a criminal summons for five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, all misdemeanors offenses.
The case remains under investigation. No charges have been filed against the minors involved in the incident. The case has been referred to the Palmer District Attorney’s Office.