Men Charged with Illegal Sale of Alcohol Targeting Homeless Anchorage Residents

Two Anchorage men illegally sold thousands of bottles of vodka over the past few years in a scheme that intentionally targeted homeless residents, authorities say.

The charges filed earlier this month against Brandon Reed and Andrew Tyone came as the result of a lengthy investigation between the Bureau of Alcohol and Marijuana Control and the Anchorage Police Department, officials from both agencies said.

The crime they are charged with, selling alcohol without a license, is only a misdemeanor. Reed, 59, was arrested and released on $250 bail earlier this month. A warrant for Tyone’s arrest was issued in early May, but the 43-year-old had still not been arrested as of Friday.

In Alaska, it is a crime for someone to sell alcohol without a valid license or permit.

Authorities say they began investigating Reed and Tyone in January 2022. But it is suspected that the men may have been selling alcohol for several years before that, said James Hoelscher, chief compliance officer for the Bureau of Alcohol and Marijuana Control. . The scope of his activity is still under investigation. Court documents indicate that authorities believe Reed was the ringleader and Tyone served as an accessory in the alleged alcohol sales.

Reed has purchased more than 3,500 bottles of Kirkland’s Signature American Vodka from Costco for more than $50,000 since the investigation began, the Bureau of Alcohol and Marijuana Control said in a statement. He also bought bottles of water in bulk.

Reed emptied the water bottles and refilled them with vodka, according to the statement. He and Tyone frequented Sullivan Arena and other areas where they knew the homeless were congregating so they could sell them alcohol, according to the statement. Reed and Tyone sold the bottles for around $10 each, and authorities said in the statement that they believe they made more than $140,000.

During the investigation, officers saw Reed sell bottles to various people at various locations around the city, according to the charges filed against him. A warrant was issued for his arrest after an undercover investigator bought two bottles from him in April, according to the charges.

Reed was arrested during a traffic stop on May 15, police said.

Reed and Tyone targeted vulnerable people who were homeless or addicted to alcohol, said Joan Wilson, director of the state alcohol control agency.

“The volume of vodka this man and his accomplice allegedly sold to the homeless in Anchorage, at great personal gain, is staggering,” he said in the statement. “The impact of those sales to the people and citizens of Anchorage who want and deserve a safe place to live has yet to be measured.”

Hoelscher, who was an investigator on the case, said in an interview Friday that stopping a large-scale illegal alcohol sales operation like this benefits the entire community.

“I believe that because of these proactive efforts by the Anchorage Police Department and my AMCO investigators, they may have prevented loss of life, other crimes including felonies, and stopped excessive (law enforcement) response due to these illegal alcohol sales in these areas,” he said.

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