Underage University of Wisconsin students will no longer be able to buy alcohol from an online website after the City of Madison filed complaints against the UW student owners.
Filed in Madison Municipal Court, the 575-count complaint against Danny Haber and Matthew Siegel, the owners of Campusdrank.com, detailed illegal deliveries made as well as sales to minors.
After hearing how the business operated and how many customers were minors, City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy said the city took action.
“We verified 241 [customers] were underage but there’s likely more than that,” Zilavy said. She added none of the customers would be facing charges.
The website allowed customers to buy beer in amounts as small as 6-packs and as large as 30-packs. Bottles of wine and hard liquor were also available for purchase.
According to the site’s FAQ page, customers could purchase up to 20 drinks with deliveries made between 4 and 8 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The delivery fee cost only $1, according to the site.
Just delivering alcohol is a crime, Zilavy said, because the buyer and seller need to meet face-to-face for such transactions.
The investigation was prompted by an e-mail Zilavy received from the Department of Revenue in March regarding Campusdrank.com. Zilavy started “looking into it” but wasn’t making any headway. She then went to the Madison Police Department, which set up a sting.
The sting happened on April 14, Zilavy said. An officer in plain clothes set up in an apartment and ordered alcohol through the website.
When Siegel made the delivery he asked for identification, but the officer said she just moved into the apartment and didn’t have any. According to the complaint, Siegel responded, “It’s OK, you look over 21 anyway” before giving her the alcohol.
Haber and Siegel face a maximum forfeiture of $400,000 to $500,000, according to Zilavy.
UW is still trying to determine whether Haber and Siegel violated UW policy, said Dawn Crim, special assistant to Chancellor Biddy Martin. The Offices of the Dean of Students are investigating, but no one in the ODOS could be reached for comment.
Crim said she is disappointed with the situation.
“We have very smart, classy entrepreneurial students, and they created a business they thought would prosper,” Crim said. “Unfortunately they did not check the legalities of the business and that’s what got them in trouble.”
Similarly, University Avenue Liquor faces punishment for their involvement with Campusdrank.com, which included delivering alcohol and selling to minors. University Avenue Liquor owners Joel Kouba and Herbert Taylor also face additional counts for wholesaling alcohol illegally, Zilavy said.
The liquor store faces a total of 904-counts with a maximum forfeiture of $1 million and will go before the Alcohol License Review Committee June 3 for a non-renewal hearing regarding their liquor license.
Crim, who is also a non-voting member of the ALRC said University Avenue Liquor’s license is going before ALRC because of the timing.
Liquor licenses were put forward for renewal May 19 and because Kouba and Taylor are being prosecuted by the city for their involvement in Campusdrank.com, the ALRC wants to consider not renewing their license, Crim said.
Haber, Siegel, Kouba and Taylor could not be reached for comment.