A Yukon Supreme Court judge granted an order last month to shut down what investigators had described as one of the busiest bootlegging operations in Pelly Crossing. (Yukon News files)

Judge grants order to shut down Pelly Crossing bootlegger

Justice Suzanne Duncan issued the community safety order on July 17.

A Yukon Supreme Court judge granted an order last month to shut down what investigators had described as one of the busiest bootlegging operations in Pelly Crossing.

In an order made July 17 but officially filed four days later, Justice Suzanne Duncan agreed that the illegal sale of alcohol from a home in the Jon Ra subdivision was having an adverse effect on the community.

The order prohibits anyone, and in particular resident Richard Hager, from “causing, contributing to, permitting or acquiescing” to the bootlegging activity. It also requires Selkirk First Nation, which owns the home, to “do everything reasonably possible to prevent the Activities from continuing or reoccurring” and allows for the monitoring of the property to ensure compliance.

The order is in effect for 12 months.

Hager, should he not comply, could face charges under the territorial Liquor Act, which prohibits the sale of alcohol without a licence.

The Yukon’s director of public safety and investigations, Jeff Simons, filed a petition to the court, with the support of Selkirk First Nation, seeking the order in June.

The petition came after months of investigation into Hager’s activities by the territory’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit.

According to documents filed in support of the petition, Hager had been warned against bootlegging but had continued to sell alcohol in Pelly Crossing anyway, which, while not a dry community, doesn’t have any licenced establishments.

Hager was documented driving to liquor stores or off-sales in Whitehorse, Mayo and Carmacks and buying large quantities of alcohol — in particular, Smirnoff vodka — that he would then split into smaller amounts and sell back to people in Pelly Crossing at “exorbitant” prices.

Text messages appeared to show Hager selling quantities as small as a single shot.

Investigators said the activity was attracting “property offences and violence,” and also took advantage of vulnerable community members including people with addictions, elders and youth. Women and girls, some of the court documents noted, were at particular risk of exchanging sexual activity for alcohol, and Hager had also received text messages from some residents asking him to not sell alcohol to certain people because of how they would behave if they became intoxicated.

The petition was heard in court in Whitehorse last month; although Hager briefly appeared in the gallery of the courtroom before the hearing, he did not formally oppose the granting of the order.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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