Town Pump Store Faces $180,000 Fine

Violated Easter alcohol sales restriction

BROWNING, Mont. -- Operators of a Browning, Mont., Town Pump convenience store said that they will appeal a tribal council's decision to fine them as much as $180,000 for selling alcohol on Easter Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

Maureen Kenneally, a spokesperson for Butte, Mont.-based Town Pump Inc., said the c-store acknowledges selling about $3,500 in alcohol on Easter, a violation of a tribal ordinance, but believes the fine is "extremely excessive."

"We are optimistic our appeal will be successful given the circumstances [image-nocss] surrounding this decision," Kenneally said in a written statement.

The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council voted last month to impose a fine. Tribal ordinance prohibits retail stores from selling alcohol on Easter and Christmas. The law has been on the books since 1986. Kenneally said the alcohol sales occurred in part because the tribe did not issue its usual reminder about the Easter prohibition. Also, informed individuals told the store manager, who was relatively new on the job, that alcohol sales would be allowed on Easter, Kenneally said.

The tribal council initially revoked Town Pump's liquor license after someone pointed out the infraction to the Blackfeet Revenue Department. The council later rescinded that order and agreed to fine the company $1,500 for each violation up to $180,000. Town Pump is not sure how many individual sales occurred that day, Kenneally said.

Town Pump operates 73 stores in the state. The company has been in business on the Blackfeet Reservation since the mid-1960s and has sold alcohol there since 1987, according to the newspaper. The store employs about 50 people.