WABENO - Dealers in Forest County sold drugs in at least two bars without the owners even knowing.|
That's what prosecutors and bar owners say was happening in an undercover drug bust in Wabeno and Laona.
Tom Pari has owned a Wabeno bar for six years.
"I was shocked when I heard," he says.
Shocked when he heard that his bar is said to be the site of at least four drug deals.
"When your name is out that you're selling dope in your bar, whatever, drugs - it hurts your name. I don't need that," he says.
Four dealers at Bottoms Up in Wabeno and at least one in Laona sold drugs - ranging from marijuana-laced chocolate bars to Xanax - to undercover officers at bars, criminal complaints say.
The chase for the dealers started years ago.
"We received tips and complaints from citizens within the county that drug activity was taking place in these areas," says Chief Deputy Alex Walrath of the Forest County Sheriff's Department.
Pari knows all four people police say were involved in the drug deals right inside his bar, but he himself didn't suspect a thing.
"I do know these people that supposedly did this, but I had no clue that they were dealing it or did it," he says.
Pari has an even closer connection with one, David Tallier.
"He's more or less a personal friend, even. I didn't know he was even doing that. It's hard for me even to believe he does do it."
Prosecutors say the deals went down at Bottoms Up in Wabeno, as well as another bar called Barb's Place in Laona.
As for catching the dealers in the act, the undercover officers had plenty to do after being assigned.
"They build some trust, build a rapport, and go from there, and try their best not to let that person know they're an undercover officer," Walrath says.
Besides Pari's friend Tallier, Donna Whitefish, Joseph Adkins, Harlan Brooks and Michael Johnvin were arrested in the bust.
The Forest County Sheriff is still looking to arrest two more accused drug dealers.
But so far, the undercover officers have done their job.
"You never notice, no. You don't know if there are undercover in here or not," Pari says.