Two sentenced for giving alcohol to teens in crash that killed officer

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two Anchorage men were sentenced Wednesday for supplying alcohol to teens involved in a fatal car crash with an Anchorage police officer last year.

Ronald Frank, 31, and Michael Hunter, 32, supplied alcohol to teens at a party before their fatal car crash with an Anchorage police officer last year.

Frank, who pleaded no contest last year to two misdemeanor counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor, was sentenced to the maximum penalty of two consecutive years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Hunter, 32, who pleaded no contest to one count of supplying alcohol to a minor, was given a sentence of one year in jail with 120 days suspended, 80 hours of community work service and a 10-year probation.

Neither man showed emotion when the sentences were read.

''It's extremely reckless to provide this amount of alcohol to a small gathering of young people,'' Judge Nancy Nolan said before an audience packed with victims' families and friends and about a dozen police officers. ''I don't find it unforeseeable that death ultimately resulted from this incident.''

The teens were drinking beer and Southern Comfort at a party last summer. Hunter initially supplied beer and later left the party, while Frank picked up other teenagers and made several more trips to a liquor store, the judge said.

Driver Robert Esper, 19, left around 3 a.m. on July 9 driving a Chevrolet Blazer. He eluded police for more than 30 minutes as they tried to pull him over for suspicion of drunken driving. Esper eventually wound up driving the wrong way on the Glenn Highway between Anchorage and Eagle River and crashed head-on into officer Justin Wollam's cruiser.

Esper, two of his three passengers and Wollam died at the scene. The other teenage passenger was critically injured but has recovered.

Both Frank and Hunter have histories of alcohol-related crimes, Nolan said, which was part of her decision to impose more severe penalties.

Justin Wollam's widow, Kristy, tearfully said her husband will miss the important events in their 4-year-old daughter's life. She asked the judge to give Frank and Hunter the maximum penalty.

''It's a pity that Mr. Frank and Mr. Hunter have shattered a home where love was abundant,'' she said. ''Although Mr. Frank and Mr. Hunter did not kill my husband, they provided for the action.''

Afterward, she said she was pleased with the sentences.

Lt. Garry Gilliam, who spoke on behalf of the Anchorage Police Department in court, later said he was concerned most about preventing teenagers from dying in alcohol-related accidents.

''I think the judge did the right thing,'' he said.

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