Charges against restaurant owners dropped

by nathan oster

A judge has granted the state’s request to dismiss all criminal charges against Myles Foley and Lori Davis, the owners of The Speakeasy in downtown Greybull.

Foley and Davis had each been charged with selling alcohol without a license in a case that began when the Greybull Town Council, on which Foley is currently serving a four-year term, decided to suspend The Speakeasy’s liquor license.

Foley held a liquor license when he ran for a seat on the town council, but was unaware at the time of the state statute that prohibits sitting council members from holding liquor licenses in the communities that they serve. He was elected in November of 2012, joined the council this past January and served into the summer before being informed of the state statute.  Soon after, the council voted to suspend The Speakeasy’s license until it could be transferred to Davis alone.

The arrest of Foley and Davis in July on charges that they had served alcohol, in violation of the verbal notice of suspension provided by the council, triggered a public outcry, which included a torrent of letters to the editor, most of them in support of the two business owners.

The latest chapter unfolded Oct. 10 when special prosecutor Timothy J. Blatt, the deputy Park County and prosecuting attorney, filed a motion in the Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial District in Big Horn County.

In it, Blatt said, “It is in the best interests of justice that this matter be dismissed without prejudice.”

In his order, Judge Harrington wrote, “The Court, having reviewed the motion and being fully informed in the premises, finds that good cause exists to grant said motion.”

Blatt did not immediately return phone calls left with his office in Powell seeking comment.

Big Horn County and Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Burns issued the following statement:  “The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they are subject to re-filing; as such, it is not appropriate for this office to make comment at this time.”

Blatt was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case on Aug. 22.

In the motion she filed with the Circuit Court, Burns cited the letters that appeared in the Standard as the reason behind her decision to seek a special prosecutor.  Burns alleges that the Standard did not check the accuracy of the claims made by the letter writers and that it should not have published any of the letters while a criminal case was pending. She said that by doing so, it “put her in a position of not being able to effectively carry out her duties as a prosecutor.”

Foley said he and Davis are “thankful that our justice system saw the truth and that they came to the correct decision,” adding, “I want to the thank the people of this community for all of their support and well wishes.”