By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer
For the owners of The Social Experience nightclub, Sunday’s arrest of two teenagers on underage drinking charges happened at a very bad time.
Already facing possible liquor license violations for allegedly allowing three 16-year-old girls into the bar in September, the bar owners are facing a fresh Indiana Excise Police investigation due to the latest arrests.
Kokomo Police haven’t yet released details, but preliminary charges are pending against two male teenagers whom police arrested at the Social, 3040 S. LaFountain St., early Sunday morning.
Gilberto Monjaraz, 18, 1300 block of East Taylor Street, was arrested shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday on charges of intimidation, disorderly conduct, illegal consumption and minor in a tavern.
Police also arrested a 17-year-old male at the bar on charges of intimidation, disorderly conduct, minor in a tavern, false informing and minor consumption.
A third person connected with the other two arrested males, Joshua Rangel, 22, 1400 block of West Tate Street, was arrested on charges of trespass, public intoxication and intimidation, police said.
The bar’s owners already are facing three excise allegations of allowing a minor to loiter and three counts of sale or furnishing alcohol to a minor, due to a Sept. 9 incident.
Early that morning, Kokomo police arrested two 16-year-old girls, after both were found drinking inside the nightclub.
Shortly after the arrests, Maj. Brian Seldon said both girls were over the legal limit for driving and were reported to police by club employees.
Bar manager Kyle Gibson said he believed both girls were let into the bar through a side door by one of their friends, but police later said the girls used fraudulent IDs to gain entrance.
“Maybe they need to check IDs more thoroughly. They need to check into it if they have 16-year-olds getting in,” Seldon said. “That does raise a red flag.”
Gibson said the bar routinely cooperates with KPD and excise, and security “usually keeps pretty good tabs” on the front door.
According to Indiana Excise Police spokesman Travis Thickstun, The Social has been the subject of several complaints in the past couple of years, but until the state agency’s Sept. 29 decision to charge the bar with license violations, excise investigators hadn’t found anything actionable.
Thickstun said excise received a complaint in November 2011, alleging sale of alcohol to minors and allowing minors to loiter at the Social Experience. It was investigated with no violations found.
The same complaints were investigated in March, also with no violations found.
In all, excise police visited the bar on five separate occasions in response to those complaints, he said.
“I think we spend more effort than about any bar in Kokomo to try to prevent that kind of thing,” bar owner Dustin Ogle said after the September arrests. “I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. ... [I]t’s good to know they were caught, hopefully they’ll learn a lesson.”
Thickstun said Tuesday that excise officers will be investigating the most recent arrests at The Social.
Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.