Updated: Board weighs testimony on Wasko’s license renewalThe Bennett Town Board hasn’t made a decision — yet — on whether it will deny renewal of the liquor license for Wasko’s Campground Plus.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
The Bennett Town Board hasn’t made a decision — yet — on whether it will deny renewal of the liquor license for Wasko’s Campground Plus.
After taking testimony for about 1½ hours Wednesday night, the board adjourned to consider the testimony to determine if owner Christopher Zoltak is “habitually being offender of the law.”
Zoltak told the panel he hasn’t even been formally charged with a crime. That would happen July 22 when he is arraigned after agents with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department found marijuana and a stolen gun at the bar April 23.
Prior to recent allegations, Zoltak said he has never been charged with a crime.
Online court records show a few traffic and local ordinance violations, neither of which are considered criminal offenses
Zoltak said after producing prescriptions for narcotics found during the search, he was advised that he wouldn’t be facing a charge of related possession of narcotics. He said he had no recollection of items officers from the state and county law enforcement agencies may have found, or statements he may or may not have made when talking to a detective and sergeant with the sheriff’s department.
Zoltak wasn’t at the bar when agents and deputies arrived and he said “law enforcement was the only ones allowed in the area.”
Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Knutson — a detective at the time — said during the search of the premises, an agent found 70 grams of what was believed to be marijuana in a freezer. A joint was found in an office, he said.
The subsequent discovery of a firearm reported stolen prompted the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department to seek a warrant to pursue a more thorough search.
The search turned up 434 grams (15 ounces) of marijuana in a number of different spots as well as prescription pills, marijuana grinders, digital scales and illegal fireworks. The sheriff’s department also seized a number of guns kept in an office where most of the marijuana was found.
Knutson said he believed the guns belonged to Zoltak, but Sgt. Jim Madden made the decision to seize the guns because of their proximity to the marijuana.
Attorney Jamy Johansen questioned how the sheriff’s department determined the substance found was marijuana after Knutson brought up field-testing of the substance — a practice Johansen said isn’t admissible in court.
Knutson, trained as a drug detection expert during his 12 years with the sheriff’s department, acknowledged the substance probably hadn’t been lab tested because that usually happens after arraignment, but said it smelled and looked like marijuana.
During his earlier testimony, Zoltak acknowledged marijuana is not legal.
The Bennett Town Board will render its decision in writing. Board members meet in closed session at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the issue.