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Three Wilton family members accused of hosting underage drinking party

January 07, 2019 07:37 PM

WILTON -  A knock on the door of a Cherry Tree Lane home yielded barking from dogs, but not a sound from the party animals police say were here on New Year's Eve.

"Over 12 underage kids inside the residence that were allegedly supplied alcohol by the homeowners."

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Sheriff Mike Zurlo says the homeowners are James Motto Sr. and his wife, Suzanne.

The Mottos and their 20-year-old son, James Motto Jr., are each charged with nine counts of unlawfully dealing with children and one count of conspiracy.

So far, police have taken statements from nine underage people, ranging in age from 17 to 20 years old, all saying the Mottos supplied the alcohol and the place to drink it.

When police got wind of the party, they sent a deputy to check it out.  The sheriff says James Motto Sr. met the deputy at the door and told police there was no party at his house.

"There was in fact an underage party taking place at that residence and they told our deputy there wasn't," said Zurlo. "Everybody was downstairs and told to keep quiet."

Experts say parents who allow kids to drink at home because "at least they know where they are" are making a mistake.

"Kids that are given permission to drink by parents, whether it's at parties or just at home, are the kids that drink more in college, not less," said Patty Kilgore, director of school-based services at The Prevention Council.

The sheriff says they learned what happened from students at South Glens Falls High who talked to Deputy Mark Stewart, the school's resource officer.

Zurlo says more kids are being interviewed and he expects more charges.

"To have young adults allegedly be supplied alcohol kind of defeats the message law enforcement's trying to portray here."

The Mottos were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning in Wilton Town Court. Each of the counts carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

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Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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