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Former Arlington selectman charged in alleged underage drinking party

Posted by Brock Parker  November 14, 2012 01:28 PM

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A district court magistrate found probable cause Wednesday to charge former Arlington Selectwoman Annie LaCourt and her husband for a party at their home last month in which 21 teenagers were allegedly drinking alcohol.

LaCourt and her husband Mark Burstein are each being charged with 33 counts of furnishing alcohol to a person under 21, and are due back in Cambridge District Court on Dec. 21 to be arraigned, according to Arlington Police Captain Richard Flynn.

Arlington Police are also seeking that the couple be charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and a magistrate will determine whether there is probable cause for those charges to go forward Thursday in a juvenile court, Flynn said.

Neither LaCourt or Burstein attended the hearing at Cambridge District Court in Medford Wednesday in which the magistrate found probable cause to charge the couple, Flynn said. The hearing was not open to the public. The couple could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday, but their attorney, Tom Brant, said they look forward to fighting the charges and expect the case to look much different when all of the facts come out.

Brant said he is still investigating the case and declined to comment on whether LaCourt and Burstein knew the teens were drinking in their house.

Arlington Police filed a criminal complaint seeking the charges last month after the department said it discovered a party at LaCourt’s home at 48 Chatham St. on Friday, Oct. 19. Police said there were 33 people at the party who were underage. Most of the teens were 17 years old, but three were 16, police said.

Police discovered the party after spotting a group of teens walking out of LaCourt’s home on their way to a playground at the nearby Stratton School that night. When police discovered the teens were intoxicated, they found more teens drinking beer inside LaCourt’s home.

LaCourt served seven years on the Arlington Board of Selectmen before deciding not to seek re-election in the spring. She was home with Burstein on the night of the party, and teens told police they saw the couple walking around the house, according to the police report.

Arlington Police said that in 2009 they had discovered a similar party at LaCourt’s home, but no charges were filed. In that incident, police spotted a drinking game of “beer pong” set up on a folding table in the front hall of the house along with several beer cans, according to a police report.

Last month, when police said they spotted teenagers drinking beer from plastic cups and beer cans in the home. LaCourt told police she and her husband had been walking around the house during the party to make sure no one was drinking. But police said there were obvious signs of drinking in the house, including beer cans in the trash, according to a police report.

While questioning LaCourt about the party, the former selectwoman became visibly upset and repeatedly blurted out an obscenity out of anger or frustration, according to a police report.

Police administered Breathalyzer tests on the teenagers and found that 21 had been drinking. Police called their parents to pick them up from the party.

Flynn said Wednesday that most of the teens have since gone through a local diversion program for first time offenders to avoid being charged with under age drinking. Charges have been filed against some of the teens who were not eligible for the program, he said.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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