JEFFERSON, Iowa — A Paton man was arrested on warrants Wednesday in connection with the Friday night kegger in rural in rural Greene County, where the sheriff issued nearly 50 citations to merrymakers, many of whom were underage.
Riley Rittgers, 23, of Paton was charged with permitting persons under 18 to consume alcohol and violation of an Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) policy.
The Greene County Sheriff and Deputy Sheriffs and officers of the Gowrie Police Department broke up the gathering as a violation of the governor’s social-distancing orders about 11:30 p.m. Friday at 236 Q Ave.
Greene County Sheriff Jack Williams said his department intends to continue enforcing the IDPH policy. Gun-toting zealots in Michigan, North Carolina and elsewhere protested Wednesday against stay-at-home orders and other social-distancing policies enacted in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Social gatherings in groups larger than 10 were temporarily outlawed under Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ declaration of a public health disaster emergency March 17, and the authority of local law enforcement agencies to enforce the order was demonstrated Friday night
Greene County’s first positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed Monday, April 6 by the Iowa Department of Public Health. The victim was 41-60 years of age.
Rittgers was one of some 10 adults present at the Q Avenue party.
Some 34 citations were issued to the 18- to 20-year-olds present for possession of alcohol under age, and one young person, Levi Hollingshead, 18, of Boone was arrested for possession of alcohol underage and booked into the Greene County Jail.
Seven minors under the age of 18 were also arrested on charges of possession of alcohol underage. The youths were transported to the Greene County Law Enforcement Center and later released to their parents or guardians.
All the party goers were prohibited from driving from the rural residence and were required to call for rides, the report said.
The Greene County Sheriff’s office is no stranger to underage drinking parties. A June 22, 2019, gathering at Flack’s River Farm Recreation involved one death and several injuries.
*A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.