Minnesota bar owner who defied virus orders found guilty

December 10, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The owner of a bar in Albert Lea was found guilty Thursday of six criminal misdemeanor charges and sentenced to 90 days in jail for defying Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders to close her business last winter.

The jury found Lisa Hanson, 57, guilty after deliberating for an hour, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Prosecutors had asked that Hanson be fined $500 and jailed for several days, but Judge Joseph Bueltel gave her a 90-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine, saying he wanted to send a message to people who violate executive orders.

“You wanted to make money over the interest of public safety,” Bueltel told Hanson. “You don’t recognize the law. You don’t think you’re subject to the law.”

Hanson had flaunted her defiance of an order from the governor to shut bars and restaurants to indoor service and dining late last year. She represented herself during the three-day trial and mostly argued that Walz’s orders were unconstitutional.

“Liberty and freedom,” Hanson shouted as she was taken into custody by a sheriff’s deputy.

Hanson has also been hit with fines totaling over $27,000 from separate legal actions brought after she left the state while facing the charges. Her business, The Interchange, closed in February.