Wally 'The Beer Man' found not guilty of selling to minors

8:23 PM, Mar 22, 2011   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A jury acquitted legendary stadium suds seller Wally "The Beer Man" McNeil on charges that he sold to a minor Tuesday morning.

That does not guarantee he'll be back walking the steps of Target Field anytime soon.

Asked directly if he would be selling beer in the stands for the upcoming Twins season Wally was a bit coy.

"We will have to cross that bridge when we come to it," McNeil said from his home Tuesday afternoon.

The Hennepin County jury found 76-year-old Walter McNeil not guilty but convicted fellow former Target Field vendor Ed Stepnick, 52.

The two vendors banded together to fight charges that they sold alcohol to a group of underage fans at Target Field in late September of 2010 before a Twins game.

The minors were working undercover with police supervision on a routine alcohol sales check.  

McNeil told KARE 11's Jana Shortal that the ordeal of going on trial took a lot out of him, and he's glad the whole thing is behind him. When asked if sports fans have seen the last of him, Wally told Shortal "Heck no," but added that he will not be begging the food and beverage vendor that contracts at Target Field to get his job back.

Whether he returns or not remains to be seen.

"Do I look like I am going out bad?  I'm smiling, I'm happy and I am relieved," McNeil said.

Martha Holton Dimick, Deputy of the Criminal Division for the Minneapolis City Attorney's office, reacted to the split verdict in a written statement.

"While we are disappointed that we received a guilty verdict in only one of these two cases, we respect the jury's decision. Underage drinking is a serious issue that too often brings tragic consequences, and that's why law enforcement and prosecutors work hard to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors."

Before McNeil's trial prosecutors offered a plea bargain that would have pulled his license to sell alcohol for a year but Wally turned down the deal, opting to risk a jury trial instead. He admitted to selling alcohol to underage drinkers, but claimed entrapment.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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