Lakeville won’t take action on Alibi liquor license for now

    Indoor dining at bars and restaurants in Minnesota have been closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    Lakeville city officials say they won’t take action against the liquor license of Alibi Drinkery even though the co-owner’s been charged with attempted murder. 

    The Lakeville bar and its patrons have earned a national reputation for spirited rebellion or foolhardy risk taking, depending on one’s perspective, for repeatedly opening in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz’s pandemic restrictions.  

    Ricardo Baldazo, 39, of Prior Lake, is charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder and two counts of first-degree assault for allegedly firing off numerous rounds in his mother’s Burnsville house and an ensuing standoff with police on Sept. 2. 

    Baldazo allegedly called to report someone broke into the house and was holding him at gunpoint. When police responded, his brother told them Baldazo was “high” and armed, according to the charging document. Gunshots rang out from inside the house until Baldazo jumped from a window — handgun in each hand — before dropping the weapons and being arrested. He allegedly told police he was the one who called 911; his mother said he’d come to her house at 4 a.m. after a fight with his girlfriend.

    Lakeville City Administrator Justin Miller said by email “Any actions against the current liquor license will be addressed when/if convictions or court proceedings are completed.”

    The governor has banned indoor dining and bars from selling alcohol inside since Nov. 20 to address rising COVID-19 cases, and Alibi Drinkery was one of a handful of businesses that repeatedly reopened in defiance of the order.

    The Department of Public Safety took civil action to suspend Alibi’s liquor license for 60 days, but the bar owners reopened again after that, saying their license couldn’t be suspended until after a hearing. Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office got a temporary restraining order on Dec. 25 to force Alibi to close, but it has repeatedly reopened, prompting the state to threaten to yank its license for five years.

    But co-owner Lisa Monet Zarza has not backed down, posting on social media Monday that the bar was “still open” despite the court ruling and a contempt of court hearing Tuesday. *A judge found the bar owners in contempt of court Thursday for violating its Dec. 31 temporary injunction and ordered the bar to pay a daily fine of $3,000 for every day it violates the governor’s executive orders and temporary injunction, effective Thursday.

    Alibi’s attorney, Mike Padden, argued the bar has taken a huge financial hit and may not survive the pandemic shutdown.

    “This is what the Jewish went thru (sic) in Nazi Germany,” Monet wrote. “WHEN WILL THIS TYRANNY END?”

    Josh Swedlund, a Belle Plaine sewer service company owner, announced Jan. 1 he’s running for governor with Monet as his running mate, and it’s clear they plan to make Zarza’s stand against Walz a centerpiece of the campaign. Zarza has not returned a phone call seeking comment.

    Lakeville city documents indicate Baldazo and Zarza were granted a liquor license in 2018, even though the requisite background check found Baldazo had three convictions for driving while under the influence between 2003 and 2008. 

    Miller said “the DWIs were known about, but did not preclude the issuance of the license” under the law.

    Baldazo bonded out of jail on the attempted murder charges on Sept. 11 by posting $750,000. One of the conditions of his release is that he remain law-abiding.

    *Updated at 7 p.m. Thursday to include the latest court action.