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September 21, 2012

Long-standing bootlegger arrested

CHICKASHA — A long-time supplier of alcohol to minors was arrested yesterday after a sting operation by the Grady County Sheriff's Department caught him selling to an 18-year-old red handed.

Lawrence Hayden, also known as "Bootlegger Willie," has been selling alcohol to minors for more than a decade, according to Grady County Sheriff Art Kell.

"Over the last month, I've had people telling me he (Hayden) sold to them and they graduated from high school 10 years ago," Kell said.

Hayden was charged with misdemeanor selling/ furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor.

Due to the charge being so minor, Kell said he does not know if the district attorney's office will prosecute Hayden.

"If he gets out, then we will get him again," Kell said. "I've seen too many problems with kids who end up in a bad situation due to alcohol. There is no telling how many lives have been ruined by alcohol obtained from this guy."

The sting operation took place after Kell caught teenagers drinking in the parking lot during the Grady County Fair.

According to an affidavit released by the sheriff's office, Kell was told by one of the teenagers that he got the alcohol from Hayden.

"He told me that every under age kid in town knows that they can go to Bootlegger Willie's House in town to buy alcohol from him," the affidavit reads.

That teenager agreed to help in the sting operation that resulted in Hayden's arrest.

Since the operation, Kell said the teenager involved has been assaulted numerous times.

"He has been targeted by other individuals," he said. "If a state's witness is targeted felony charges can be brought up against those committing the assault."

Kell commended the teenager that helped in the sting.

"The kid realized he was wrong and is now having to sacrifice because he is trying to make society better," Kell said.

The teenager told Kell that once someone knocked on Hayden's door, he would invite you inside of his house. From that point the buyer gives Hayden $15 and Hayden will give the buyer a bottle of whiskey.

Kell gave the teenager, who agreed to participate in a sting operation, a marked $20 bill to buy from Hayden. The teen took Kell to 1717 Grand Avenue in Chickasha.

"The teenager exited my vehicle and went to the back door of the residence," the affidavit reads. "He went inside the residence and a short time later exited the residence and returned back to my vehicle with a bottle of Sunny Brook Kentucky Blended Whiskey, 80 proof."

The bottle of whiskey was taken into possession by the sheriff's office and Hayden was then approached about the sale.

"I asked Hayden why he had sold alcohol to a minor," the affidavit reads. "He told me that he had bought the alcohol for the subject that morning and was just holding it for him until he returned."

The $20 bill used in the purchase was then retrieved from Hayden's wallet. Hayden was not arrested on the scene due to apparent health problems according to the affidavit.

When Kell made the arrest yesterday, he said Hayden had multiple excuses why he could not go with the sheriff.

"Eventually I told him 'Look, you've been selling alcohol to minors. You're going to go,'" Kell said.

The teenager's name was withheld from this story to protect him from any further harm.

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