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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “3 University of Wisconsin students face more than $86,000 in fines for party”

    MADISON, Wis. — It must have been some party.

    Madison’s city attorney’s office has slapped three University of Wisconsin-Madison students with fines totaling more than $86,000 — that’s about $28,000 apiece — for hosting a house party last month that led to more than 130 citations, Madison police said Tuesday.

    To put that in some context, attending UW-Madison for a year and paying for housing and other expenses costs about $21,600.

    Travis W. Ludy, 21, Mitchell J. Klatt, 20, and Kevin J. Tracy, 20, were each cited with one count of dispensing alcohol without a permit, 21 counts of procuring alcohol for an underage person and 21 counts of adult encouraging underage alcohol consumption. The students also could face discipline from the university.

    Madison Police Officer Brian Chaney, who was involved in breaking up the party at a two-story brick house, said officers were more concerned about safety than racking up fines. The problem was that the hosts didn’t work with the officers.

    The three students were charging most partygoers $5 per cup to get in and get drinks from half-barrels, according to police. Many of the attendees were freshmen in just the second weekend of classes.

    When police arrived and saw 200 to 300 students milling around the house with plastic cups, they knocked on the door. Those inside immediately stopped the music, locked the door and hushed themselves, Chaney said.

    Officers wanted the hosts to come out and give them permission to search the home, Chaney said. That way, they could check whether students inside were incapacitated. They have found in the past that house parties can get so big that the hosts can’t keep track of the guests.

    Chaney said it took awhile before students decided “”it wasn’t worth it to barricade themselves in the house with their hosts.””

    When the hosts still didn’t identify themselves, the officers started counting suspected underage drinkers. They stopped once the hosts came forward and were cooperative.

    In an interview Tuesday Ludy said the party started as a pregame celebration before the Badgers game Sept. 11 against San Jose State University, “”with a bunch of old guys we sell our parking to.””

    “”It’s all like 40- or 50-year-olds with their families,”” Ludy said.

    The nighttime party started out with two kegs of beer and was the first big party the roommates had, he said.

    “”More kids just kept coming and coming, even after we started kicking them out,”” he said.

    “”It just got pretty out of hand.””

    Ludy said the partyers who were kicked out began milling around the parking lot, refusing to leave.

    He said once the three found out “”by word of mouth”” that police had arrived, “”it was just ‘what do we do? What do we do?'””

    “”And then the cops came and busted all of us,”” he said.

    Ludy said the three are hoping to get their fines reduced, because “”none of us have anywhere near that kind of money.””

    “”I would probably go to jail, to be honest,”” he said.

    “”I don’t have anywhere near that, and my parents aren’t rich.

    “”I don’t know what they do to people who can’t pay their fines, but I’m guessing it’s nothing good.””

    A neighbor, Spencer Evenson, a 20-year-old junior from Wayzata, Minn., said the fines are “”absolutely unbelievable”” and that partying is a way of life in the neighborhood.

    “”It’s a college town, it happens,”” Evenson said.

    “”I don’t know how you could ever charge somebody $86,000 for having people over.””

    Marci Paulsen, who handles most house party cases for Madison’s city attorney’s office, noted that the fines are the maximum that the hosts of this party might have to pay. The hosts might negotiate a lesser amount with her office.

    The party is the only one with major fines so far this year, Paulsen said, adding there were only one or two such parties last year.

    Authorities in Madison said they’ve been trying to crack down on large house parties because they worry uncontrolled revelry could lead to sexual assaults, batteries, thefts and damaged property, as well as alcohol poisoning.

    Chaney said officers have been pushing residents to limit the size of any party and to make sure they know those attending parties they host.

    There is a benefit for hosts who cooperate. Chaney said officers on his Community Police Team broke up another house party on the same night about a block away from the kegger. The hosts at that party worked with police — and were only issued about $5,000 in tickets, he said.

    “”They get some sort of citation,”” he said, “”but nothing in comparison with the parties that are uncooperative.””

    For Tracy, who didn’t want to comment Tuesday on the Sept. 11 party fiasco, the incident was another chapter in an already well-chronicled college career. Tracy was featured on the MTV series “”College Life,”” in which eight UW-Madison freshmen and sophomores were equipped with cameras to document their lives on the Madison campus.

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