A downtown Boise bar owner is facing jail time after a Sunday arrest on charges of altering a surveillance video to hide evidence of serving alcohol to a minor.
Thomas "Ted" Challenger, 38, who owns the Main Street Bistro, China Blue and Dirty Little Roddy's, was arrested by Boise Police and booked into jail during the early morning hours of Sunday after a warrant was filed.
Charges leading to the arrest were first filed by the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney's Office on March 9. Greg Bower, Ada County prosecuting attorney, said Challenger faces three charges, including preparing a fraudulent document (Bower said he tampered with a security video), a felony, and two counts of serving liquor to a minor, both misdemeanors. Bowers said the felony carries a five-year sentence, while both misdemeanors bring less than six months in jail.
But the grounds behind the charges are still a mystery for Challenger and his attorney, David Leroy.
"(We) are truly mystified as to the basis of these charges," Leroy said Tuesday morning.
Leroy and Challenger made an official appearance before the Idaho State Police's Alcohol and Beverage Control department two weeks ago, regarding an ongoing case involving the state's over-serving law. Challenger has filed a motion in that case alleging that the law is unconstitutional. During that proceeding, no mention of any criminal investigation nor pending charges was ever mentioned, Leroy said.
While he has yet to see any explanation of the charges, Leroy said he believes they stem from an instance last November when 20-year-old Ashley Picard, who was legally employed at one of Challenger's bars, was allowed on-premise during a birthday party for Challenger.
As for the felony charge of tampering with a security video provided to the Boise Police, Leroy said the charge is completely false. "We absolutely deny that Mr. Challenger, at any point, provided any video to any law enforcement officer," he said.
Leroy said Challenger's arrest is another example in what he says is a disturbing trend for area law enforcement: "I am concerned with the fact that we had made an appearance on these same allegations before the Idaho State Police, yet the Boise City Police arrested Mr. Challenger at 3 a.m., as he was coming out of his Main Street business, instead of notifying us of the existence of the charges and allowing us to voluntarily appear.
"It's a continuation of the questionable and unnecessary enforcement tactics of the city against downtown bar owners," he said.
Leroy said Challenger will plead not guilty to all charges and will demand a jury trial.
Challenger bonded out of jail soon after the arrest but is due in court for his initial arraignment on July 19. Leroy said he will try to expedite the case.