Running Spotted Cow out of Wisconsin costs two Minnesotans a felony

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The case of the Spotted Cow keg runners resulted in the Maple Tavern’s owner and bar manager each being charged with a single felony of transporting alcohol into Minnesota for resale, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.

Brandon Hlavka, 37, of St. Michael and David Lantos, 28, of Brooklyn Park were charged Feb. 4 and will make their first court appearance on March 2.

 “While this is far from the most serious crime we’ve had to prosecute, businesses must follow the laws the legislature passes to make sure the competition is fair and the products are safe for consumers,” Freeman said.

According to the criminal complaint, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division received a tip in April that the Maple Tavern in Maple Grove was illegally importing and selling Spotted Cow beer. The beer is brewed by New Glarus Brewing Co. in that south-central Wisconsin city and it is not a licensed manufacturer in Minnesota, nor are its brews licensed or sold in Minnesota.

On April 13, two alcohol and gambling enforcement agents visited the tavern, noticed the Spotted Cow tap and ordered the beer. One of the agents poured part of his beer into a container for testing, which proved it was stronger than 3.2 percent alcohol. Later, alcohol and gambling enforcement agents served a search warrant on the bar and recovered three Spotted Cow kegs and receipts for the purchase of 10 kegs from two Hudson, Wi., liquor stores between mid-February and mid-April, the criminal complaint states.

Hlavka, the owner, and Lantos, the bar manager, told investigators that they discussed ways of getting mico brews into the bar, and specifically Spotted Cow. Hlavka knew he couldn’t get the beer from any Minnesota distributors, so the two men decided to drive to Wisconsin to buy the kegs, with Lantos doing the transportation, according to the complaint.

Hlavka Criminal Complaint (PDF)

Lantos Criminal Complaint (PDF)