Man who furnished alcohol to teens before crash reaches plea agreement

Posted: Sunday, November 04, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man accused of supplying alcohol to teen-agers before their fatal car crash with a police officer in July has agreed to plead to two counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor, the prosecutor on the case said Friday.

Ronald Frank, 31, now is charged with four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and five counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor. The charges, all misdemeanors, are being consolidated so that several minors will be named in each count instead of one minor per count, said assistant district attorney Bob Linton.

A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. No agreement on a sentence has been reached, Linton said. The maximum penalty for each furnishing alcohol charge is one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Frank has been held at Sixth Avenue Correctional Center since his arrest July 12. His bail is $20,000.

The teens were drinking beer and liquor at a party at a mobile home that one of them had been hired to clean.

Robert Esper, 19, one of the teen-agers to whom Frank is accused of providing, left the party early July 9 driving a Chevrolet Blazer with six teen-age passengers. Police tried to pull him over as a suspected drunken driver, but he eluded them for more than 30 minutes.

At one point, Esper reached a dead end in a trailer court and three teens scrambled out. Some minutes later Esper drove the wrong way on the Glenn Highway and crashed head-on into Anchorage police officer Justin Wollam's cruiser. Wollam, Esper and two teen-age girls died in the crash. Another teen was critically injured but recovered.

When Frank was arrested, he was awaiting placement in a halfway house to serve five months for a federal theft conviction. He is a former Federal Aviation Administration mechanic and had charged $58,000 in personal items on a government credit card, according to court records. He also is on probation for a 2000 drunken driving conviction.

A second man, Michael Hunter, 32, also has been charged with providing alcohol to teen-agers at the July party.

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