Earl Montpetit fined, given 15-day jail term

STAR TRIBUNE (Mpls.-St. Paul) Newspaper of the Twin Cities

Date: 12/07/88

Conrad deFiebre; Staff Writer

A tearful Earl L. Montpetit was sentenced Tuesday to serve 15 days in jail, pay $1,060 in fines and assessments and complete a treatment program for men involved in prostitution. Prosecutors said Ramsey County District Judge Gordon Shumaker's sentence was more appropriate for a misdemeanor rather than the felony of promoting prostitution that Montpetit was convicted of in September. The sentence provides for reducing the felony to a misdemeanor on the St. Paul bar and restaurant owner's criminal record after three years of probation.

State guidelines called for a stayed prison term with up to a year's sentence in Montpetit's case. But prosecutors had sought a type of stay in which the felony would have remained on his record, a maximum fine of $5,000 and "substantial" jail time.

Montpetit said he considered Shumaker's sentence unfair becauseit followed an unfair verdict that he plans to appeal. He will not be required to fulfill any terms of the sentence pending appeal. He was accompanied to court yesterday by his wife, their eight children and an infant granddaughter. As he stood before Shumaker withhis attorney, Earl Gray, Montpetit spoke haltingly through tears: "I have suffered considerable financial hardship . . . total embarrassment to my family and myself for over a year. I will have a heart condition for the rest of my life."

Gray said that Montpetit was hospitalized for depression after both his arrest and trial. In July he suffered a heart attack and had triple-bypass surgery. Meanwhile, Gray said, Montpetit has lost more than $200,000 in his bar business and stands to be stripped of his remaining liquor licenses because of the felony conviction. After the prostitution charges surfaced, Montpetit closed his Oz nightclub and Montanita's restaurant in downtown St. Paul. He still operates the All-American Bar in St. Paul and a Montanita's in Minneapolis.

A jury found him guilty Sept. 2 of setting up a 70-year-old man from Somerset, Wis., with a 21-year-old police informant posing as a prostitute during a "sting" operation at the Oz. In arguing for a lenient sentence, Gray told Shumaker that the police informant had approached Montpetit and he derived no profit from a subsequent deal for paid sex. In addition, Gray said, Montpetit's judgment was impaired because of the actions of another police decoy who "made a play for Montpetit." The decoy, a female police officer, was "young and sexy, dressed as a sex kitten," Gray said. "In order to `have' her alone he needed to find a date for (the informant). Certainly Earl Montpetit made a mistake in judgment. However, there is no question that his judgment was impaired by the temptress (the officer)."

Montpetit was scheduled to stand trial Nov. 28 on a felony charge of engaging in prostitution with a minor. In an unusual plea bargain with prosecutors, however, Montpetit, without admitting wrongdoing, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of engaging in prostitution with an adult. While under probation, Shumaker said, Montpetit is forbidden to associate with prostitutes. The judge also said he considered treatment the most important part of the sentence.

The program Montpetit was ordered into is a newly organized private therapy group in Roseville, Shumaker said. It involves eight sessions of group therapy and individual counseling paid for by the participant, he said. If Montpetit does not complete the program after his legal appeals are exhausted, Shumaker said, he will receive additional jail time.

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