It appears the New Canaan Police Department has finally busted a parent for allowing their underage teenager to host drinking parties. On August 22nd, Avery Underwood,19, was charged with delivery of alcohol to minors and her mother Lori Underwood, 47, was issued an infraction for failing to halt possession of alcohol by a minor.
Hearst CT Newspapers is reporting the cops think more than 60 youths were at the party and when they responded to a noise complaint at the Underwood’s home on 145 Weed St and saw teens running away from the property. The usual beers-on-the-lawn were observed (85 empty beers were counted) and the cops confiscated 30 beers, a bottle of rum and wine but here’s where it gets interesting.
According to the police account, which from personal experience I can verify isn’t always accurate; Avery’s mom was at the house during the party. The best part is allegedly Avery wears the pants in the family because NCPD says Avery admitted she asked her mom to hide in the closet. Apparently she didn’t want Lori to get nabbed as a co-conspirator to hosting underage drinking parties. You see in Connecticut parents can be charged with a felony for this type of thing, especially if any one was hurt while illegally consuming drugs or alcohol in their home or getting in an accident driving home.
But instead of lobbing serious charges against her mom or her father (not sure where he was) the NCPD chose to add a class D felony charge to Avery. Yep-somehow they figured out Avery has a fake ID and bought the alcohol for the shin-dig. The charge is second-degree forgery which faces 1-5 years jail time and a $5,000 fine.
Now this isn’t the first time the NCPD have received evidence the Underwood home hosted underage drinking. You see, last June when I spoke with NCPD Officer Gulino I told him I was investigating the Underwoods for hosting events that led to kids getting dangerously sick from binge drinking and engaging in high risk sex. I also told Gulino my research was showing the NCPD didn’t charge parents for assisting in underage drinking when they had reason to believe the parents contributed or turned a blind eye to the party. The NCPD even has a copy of a detailed letter about this type of behavior happening in the Underwood’s home last April, written by one of Avery’s best friends Meagan Brody.
Last year we didn’t see the NCPD investigate or charge the Underwoods for underage drinking. Avery was a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday when she hosted a party where her friend, Meagan Brody, got very ill after drinking. At the time both girls were seniors attending New Canaan High School and Meagan detailed in her letter that Avery had given her keys to her house to get in before the party really got going. Meagan wrote we “got in bikinis, because it was a beach theme, and began with a few jello shots.” Meagan’s letter said by 9:30 p.m. she’d consumed an entire water bottle of pure vodka. The letter (a copy of which the NCPD have had since June 2010) went on to detail a sexual event between her and a boy she hardly knew because she was drunk.
I never understood why the NCPD didn’t take this evidence seriously last year and I am even more interested in how many other underage teens might have gotten hurt at one of the Underwoods parties.
Avery’s father is a forex trader and a British national. It’s my understanding Avery has dual citizenship and I know she attended her 1st year of college in England at the University of Brighton Fashion Society. With her next court date on September 6th it looks like she won’t be making it back to college this fall (it also could be possible she’s transferred to a State-side school). Avery’s facebook page that use to boast profile photos of her drinking (like the one in this post) can be found here. Lori’s facebook page, which I saw last year, is connected to Avery’s via ‘friends’ which means she can see the party photos her daughter likes to post.
I haven’t been able to find an email or listed phone number to reach the Underwoods for comment but I very much hope to hear their side of the story if they choose to respond. I also haven’t seen the warrant report, which will detail the NCPD’s version of the events explaining why they think it’s OK to charge Avery Underwood with a felony for having a fake ID or the proof that she bought the illegal drinks and served them to underage guest – once again this report will be only one side of the events and local reporters need to make sure they don’t take it as gospel.
Of course from what I’ve seen this might have been prevented if the NCPD had charged Avery Underwood with a $150 fine last year and suspended her drivers license for 60 days (the max penalties they could have executed based on the events and evidence they had last June). Maybe it would have put a bit a fear in Avery and her parents by showing them if they host underage parties the NCPD will hold them accountable.
UPDATE 9-16-11: Avery Lee Underwood’s next court date is October 5th and she is represented by Mark Sherman. I saw a copy of her arrest report (filed in Norwarlk Court) which details very little and mentions nothing about her telling the NCDP that she suggested her mom, Lori, hide in the closest. It did state that the drivers liscense was issued in CT and was in her name. Most of the beers found on the property were lite beer so it’s clear she wasn’t encouraging a high calorie party. There was also a 5L box of Franzia wine and half a bottle of Captain Morgan spiced rum. The case number is: CR11-130085-S
UPDATE: Avery’s attorney delays the plea which is just a move used to negotiated with Norwalk DA to likley enter a plea deal. But what I really want to know is did Sgt Carol Ogrinc need to verbally state to reporters that Averys’ mom hide when the NCPD came to her house. Why was that relevant to Avery’s case….? Is Carol Ogrinc just trying to make a power play that is not relational to the case?
UPDATE 11-17-2011: Mark Sherman, Avery Underwood’s attorney, convinced the Norwalk court to allow Avery to leave the country and return to college in England. Court documents show Avery’s mom claimed since she is now a single mom it would be an economic hardship to pay for Avery to make her court appearance. Lesson here is the state of CT doesn’t seem to think if you are charged with two felonies related to underage drinking that you should have to stay in the country or are a flight risk.
UPDATE: Mark Sherman got an accelerated rehabilitation deal for Avery. Which means after her probation period ends and she doesn’t get arrested again her charges are dropped as if the arrest never happen.
Disclosure: Meagan Brody is the 19 year old daughter of my long term ex-boyfriend Paul Brody. I have met Avery Underwood on a few occasion with Meagan and Paul in 2010. I was arrested last fall for misdemeanors by the NCPD after I informed them about the fact I was working on a story about New Canaan Wall Street parents supporting underage drinking and the local cops ignoring the problem. While investigating this story I was in a happy and healthy relationship with Paul Brody. The State has twice offered me a deal to wipe out these charges if I agree to a short term probation with out admitting guilt. I have respectfully declined their offer because I think these issues need to aired in an open court and of course I pleaded not guilty.