And now, an $86,000 hangover for St. Paul man

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 6, 2010 - 9:08 PM

A St. Paul man is among three UW-Madison students facing a staggering fine for a kegger.

A post-game kegger has left three University of Wisconsin-Madison students with more than the usual headache.

The roommates face fines of more than $86,000 for throwing an off-campus house party that swelled out of control.

Twenty-year-old Kevin Tracy of St. Paul is among the three charged with procuring alcohol for underage people, dispensing alcohol without a permit and encouraging underage alcohol consumption, among other things.

He alone faces a maximum penalty of $28,149. Travis Ludy, 21, and Mitchell Klatt, 20, were also charged. In all, they racked up 135 violations.

Police say that when they arrived at the party around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 11, the hosts locked the doors, turned off the lights and hushed the crowd, which had grown to a few hundred people, many of them underage.

"They basically barricaded the residence and wouldn't let the officers in," said Joel DeSpain, public information office for the Madison police.

While some students argue that the punishment is excessive -- per student, it would exceed a year of tuition, -fees and housing at UW-Madison -- police point out that wild campus parties spawn other crimes, such as rapes and theft. Police here have similar concerns, especially following several reported sexual assaults at University of Minnesota fraternity houses.

"We're concerned about people's safety," DeSpain said, "not so much having large fine amounts levied against those throwing the parties."

The students are to appear in court Oct. 25.

Tracy and his parents did not return calls for comment. Ludy said that although the party started as a tame celebration before a Badgers football game, later it "got pretty out of hand." He said the three hope to get the fines reduced, because they can't afford it.

"None of us have anywhere near that kind of money," he said.

Spencer Evenson is from Wayzata, but as a junior at UW-Madison, he lives in an apartment complex just 200 feet from the house in question. Parties are "a common occurrence" in the student-heavy neighborhood, he said, and sometimes, despite good intentions, they get out of hand.

So fining hosts a possible total of $86,000 "is unfair and unrealistic," Evenson said. "I was in complete disbelief."

There's a good chance of a reduced penalty, according to police and Madison's city attorney office.

The $86,000 is a maximum fine for all three defendants, and they might be able to negotiate a lesser amount, said Marci Paulsen, assistant city attorney. In such cases, "generally, they pay a portion of it. We might also hold open a portion of the penalty," to be paid only if there are future citations, she said.

Her office might prosecute a party in this way once or twice a year, she said. In most cases, police handle house parties by writing citations.

In fact, that's how Madison police handled a party that same September night, just a block away. "If those people who are having house parties are cooperative, they might end up with a few hundred dollars in citations," DeSpain said. "You're better off dealing with us than locking the door."

He said news of the possible $86,000 penalty had good timing. This weekend is homecoming -- against the University of Minnesota, incidentally.

The three students might also face discipline from UW-Madison, if the school finds that they violated a student code. A spokesman there said punishment could range from a phone call or meeting with university officials to, in serious cases, suspension or expulsion.

Tracy, from St. Paul, has faced discipline from the university before. He starred on MTV's "College Life," in which eight UW-Madison students were given cameras to document their school year. The program "is not endorsed by U of W," its website notes.

While on that show, Tracy got kicked out of the university's residence halls after repeated violations.

"I'm in some serious trouble," he told the camera.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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