Your Government at Work: Trying to Prosecute Restaurateur for Tweeting Photo of Underage Kids Who Tried to Buy Beer [UPDATE: Acquittal!]

Why is government mad? The kids were sent by cops to entrap him into selling them the beer.


John Horvatinovich is on trial this week because he tweeted out a photo of a couple of 17 -year-old kids who tried to buy alcohol at his Omaha, Nebraska, restaurant, Salt 88.

Salt 88 webpage

He's facing a misdemeanor charge of interfering with a government operation. [UPDATE: And today, February 8, he was fortunately acquitted by a jury.]

Why? Because the kids were sent there by the Nebraska State Patrol as part of an attempted sting to entice him to illegally sell them alcohol.

His resistance to selling Bud Lights to the kids, who presented their real underage I.Ds and were turned away, indicates his intent to sternly obey the law. Yet that act turned into what the state considers lawbreaking when he thought he'd do a solid for the community by exposing the would-be lawbreakers.

He tweeted out a photo showing the face of the two teens from his restaurant surveillance camera on August 13 of last year, according to a report from the Omaha News-Herald, with these words: "Omaha restaurant peeps: These two are trying to ruin your night w/sting operations in town." (The tweet has since been deleted.)

Despite using the word "sting" in his tweet, Horvatinovich told local TV station WOWT News 6 that "We were presented with two minors trying to buy alcohol at our restaurant. Had I known they were minors working with authorities in a compliance check, I would have deleted it immediately. But we didn't find that until 12-days after the tweet."

According to the News-Herald, "Assistant City Prosecutor Makayla Maclin said in her opening statement [in his trial] Monday that…'(The teens) couldn't perform any more compliance checks as a result of the tweet.'"

Their police handlers feared with them being identifiable on the internet that future use of those same teens in bars could result in possible violence against them.

Horvatinovich's maximum possible sentence for posting a picture of people who tried to break the law in his restaurant is a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The trial was ongoing as of today. [UPDATE: As noted above, today February 8 he was acquitted.]

NEXT: Dakota Access Pipeline Easement Will Be Granted By Army

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Your tax dollars at work, citizens of Omaha!

    1. +1 and they get to pay property taxes to pay for this “service” against the will of the people

    2. +1 and they get to pay property taxes to pay for this “service” against the will of the people

  2. I remember when I was younger and respected law enforcement. Good times.

    1. I feel pretty proud to say I have no memory of ever respecting law enforcement.

    2. I too remember when I was younger and there was no way to hear about police corruption as other than the occasional aberration. Some days I miss the blissful ignorance brought by a monolithic press and no internet.

  3. Speaking of legal proceedings – never mind, I mean OT –

    Scholars: ‘Liberal’ reputation of 9th Circuit overblown

    “SEATTLE (AP) – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is weighing the appeal concerning President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, is the federal appeals court conservatives have long ridiculed as the “nutty 9th” or the “9th Circus.”…

    “”The reputation is certainly deserved based on the history of the last 40 years or so,” [law professor Arthur] Hellman said Monday. “It’s been more liberal, by which we mean more sympathetic to habeas petitioners, civil rights plaintiffs, anti-trust cases, immigration cases. But it’s less of an outlier now than it was.””

    1. “The three judges weighing Trump’s travel ban are on the case by virtue of having been randomly assigned to the circuit’s motions panel for this month. Senior Circuit Judge William C. Canby Jr. was appointed by Carter in 1980; Senior Circuit Judge Richard R. Clifton was appointed by Bush in 2002; and Circuit Judge Michelle T. Friedland was appointed by Obama in 2014.”

  4. When you don’t have anything to do because government has been given too much to do.

  5. A week ago, I would have just commented on the laughable claim of their police “handlers” being concerned for their safety after the tweet. Now, I’m just wondering why Reason doesn’t feel this story is too local to cover.

    1. Maybe you should buy a donut pillow for that butthurt.

  6. LOL “Sting operations…” “…had I known they were minors working with authorities…”
    He’s probably right that his weak-ass efforts at bullshitting will not save his ass; only nullification can. Hopefully ACLU, EFF, or someone else takes this case pro bono and gets this bullshit law struck down.

    1. *takes the appeal pro bono

    2. Nullification? Why not just make them show where what he did was illegal?

      1. I don’t know how broadly the statute is written. Both he and the ADA seem to think it’s likely he’ll be convicted. I just assumed he could be convicted under it, as written, and of course if that is the case the statute will not survive an appeal.


  8. Another prime example of police budgets being to large causing “bored” police officers trying to create crime.

    1. Root hog, or die!

  9. What happened to “See something, say something?” This story is yet another reason not to skip jury duty. You may get a case like this that deserves to be laughed out of court.

    1. I’ve been perfectly willing to serve on a jury with nullification if need be at the forefront of my mind, but literally every single time my entire juror group gets dismissed beforehand. Never managed to get to voir dire–which, according to Suprynowicz, is French for jury tampering.

  10. I didn’t watch the whole sad affair, but Ted Cruz just rhetorically raped Bernie Sanders in a 2 hour debate on the non-future of Obamacare.

    1. So my FB feed’ll say “Bernie destroyed the fascist Zodiac Killer lol”. I don’t even have to go there and I know what it’ll say.

  11. Our paper is called the Omaha World Herald.

  12. OT: I can’t for the life of me understand the rabid hatred for Betsy DeVos. People are going absolutely nuts over her confirmation and polluting my Facebook page with their irrationality. People from my state are all upset over Senator Daines voting to confirm her, that he sold out for $46,000 or thereabouts. Of course, they completely ignore how much influence the teachers’ unions peddle to Democrats and a couple Republicans from Alaska and Maine…

    1. Anyhoo, it’s very disheartening to me to see so many individuals so opposed to educational choice and so obsessed with credentialing and who can’t fathom anything other than central planning. They are alien to me.

      1. The Dems probably don’t care much one way or another. But the teachers unions are properly in fear of their cushy jobs and control of bloated budgets, and are a huge constituency who must be appeased.

        1. follow the $$$$$$

          99 times out of 100 it will lead you in the right direction

          1. I’m sure that’s part of it. But plenty of people not on the union payroll are just as vitriolic. They genuinely believe her confirmation ushers the Education Apocalypse. I guess it’s simply ignorance of what DOE does and the benefits of school choice. They also seem to ignore the utter failures of federal education policy.

            1. The actual legislators just want to retain their seats. Nothing else really matters. But there are plenty of people who hang on their every word, just as sports fans follow one team or another for no reason other than they always have or their family or friends or co-workers do.

              These hangers-on don’t have any power, they don’t want to think, they just want to be fans of their team. That’s all it is.

            2. 20 years ago I stared answering people who told me that oe measure or another would “destroy the public school system” by asking “And this is a problem, how, exactly?”

              It tends to rock them back on their heels.

            3. What does the federal gov’t have to do w school choice, anyway?

              1. It doesn’t, except maybe through vouchers; however, it’s one of the reasons given by anti-DeVos people for not supporting her.

                1. I was having fun with my liberal GF, arguing that she was opposed to DeVos because she didn’t like people having “choices”, which led to her painting herself into a corner and arguing that charter schools didn’t * really * offer a choice because they’re private schools for rich kids, and then a lot of denial when I pointed out that they * are public schools and they benefit kids in poor urban areas.

                  I basically got to imply that she wasn’t pro-choice and didn’t much care for poor black kids having a future, without ever having to say those words.

          2. 90 times out of 100 it will lead you in the LEFT direction….

      2. it’s very disheartening to me to see so many individuals so opposed to educational choice and so obsessed with credentialing and who can’t fathom anything other than central planning. They are alien to me.

        on top of the fact that 99% of these people don’t even know that schools are paid for with property taxes, and run by local school-boards.

        they act like every public school is run from DC HQ

    2. Here’s a sampling of some responses I got from prog friends after I posted in favor of dismantling the Department of Education:

      What could possibly go wrong with completely removing government oversight of education?

      I can’t wait to see the texas history curriculum focusing on how evolution is false, it was actually the democrats against slavery and the whole party switching thing is fake history and those uppity negros complaining because america was too great.

      Honestly it’s mostly about making sure more and more kids are raised in an evangelical Christian system without any outside influence to allow them to think.

      Let’s have a religious test to enroll in pre-k !

      There should be standards that every state has to meet regarding education. If Wisconsin wants to all of their schools to become religious private schools they shouldn’t be able to do that. If they want to teach alternative facts they shouldn’t be able to. Kids shouldn’t be punished with strict religious education solely because of where they were born.

      1. None of that shit is true, of course. I wonder how much more pants shitting needs to happen before they’ll finally calm the fuck down.

        1. The left has no way of policing its own stupidity, and a stranglehold on the institutions that at least at one point had the credibility to do it. They are stuck in a bubble filled with the smell of their own shit with no way out, and it’s why the left is categorically and unequivocally more dangerous than the right/conservatives. They’re not going to calm the fuck down until they are back in power, and even then it will be the Obama-era on steroids.

          The Trump-era? That’s going to the Bush era on steroids, in terms of leftwing derp and stupidity. They don’t even go for attempts at bad satire any more, but instead just trot out random people playing Steve Bannon dressed up as death. They don’t make illusions to fascist enemies or a fascist Ameriac, either. Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is now Hitler. And they’ve spent the last 8 years building up the nerve to commit violence by equating different ideas and free speech with it, as more eloquent members of this esteemed idiot peanut gallery have pointed out in the past.

          1. It really is all about their own power. Their love of power is the only consistent thing about them and explains their cognitive dissonance and odious hypocrisy.

        2. The majority of them never will. Which will lose them the next election, amd the one after that, and so on until the grownups are in charge.

      2. The curriculum is already heavily religious. The figures of worship are just the State and Gaia instead of Jesus.

    3. She’s a threat to the teachers unions, which are a pillar of Dem support and, more importantly, money.

    4. My brother is a public high school English teacher. Listening to his co-workers, it’s obvious that that Bastiat quote about socialists being unable to comprehend the difference between government and society isn’t well-known enough, because it’s basically a fundamental attack on civilization itself to them.

      Also, every time I meet him for drinks and I have further interaction with them, it just solidifies my belief that homeschool is the way to go.

      1. It would be nice if they could at least recognize that their own pecuniary interest might cloud their views. But that would take a level of self-reflection unachievable by most, it seems.

      2. Surprisingly,, my wife and a couple of her friends aren’t that way despite being teachers. One in fact is readily admits the system is a piece of crap, run by union assholes and a moronic ministry. It has nothing to do with quality of education or ‘kids’ and everything to do with pensions and power.

        It’s a turn on when you hear that from a public sector worker.

    5. It’s because she actually threatens the raw power of government bureaucrats, with her plans to transfer some of that power to the private citizens who happen to be the parents of the government’s schoolchildren. Even worse, that transfer will undermine government power by preventing those schoolchildren from being properly indoctrinated. So not only is she threatening government power, she is doing so in a way that will cause the government to lose its schoolchildren’s souls.

      The worshipers of Big Government (blessed be its Holy Name!) make a lot of noise about people like Sessions, because he wants to increase government power in the “wrong” way, but at the end of the day he still wants to increase government power. Betsy Devos, OTOH, actually threatens to reduce that power, and they’re willing to go full TEOTWAKI to stop her because reducing government power is itself, in their view, a TEOTWAKI scenario.

  13. Mitch McConnell is making me defend Elizabeth Warren. That’s the worst offense a sitting Senator has ever committed.

    1. Can you elaborate?

      1. On the floor of the Senate she read a letter from Coretta Scott King (circa 1986) opposing Sessions. This apparently broke some obscure rule about not insulting another senator on the floor of the Senate, so now she’s not allowed to talk during the confirmation hearing. Or something like that.

        1. Sounds like a dumb rule.

          1. Yeah we need a more British palimentary style Senate.

        2. Still though, Warren loves to interrupt everyone. She should shut the hell up every now and then and actually listen to her opponents. Then again, that’s why she’s a darling of the left.

          1. Don’t want her to shut up opposing that piece of shit Sessions though. Gotta take what you can get.

          2. I love Warren’s tweet from the aftermath.

            I will not be silent while the Republicans rubber stamp an AG who will never stand up to the @POTUS when he breaks the law.

            Wow. Just wow. It’s like the last 8 years never happened.

            1. Yeah, she’s full of shit.

            2. She’s not well in the head.

              She likes to fight a lot.

          3. She does tend to grandstand. Trying to build up a rep so she can run for president in 2020.

        3. Can’t allow people to insult the second estate!

        4. Just trying to avoid yet another awkward situation where a Massachusetts senator gets beaten into a coma on the Senate floor for insulting a Southern senator.

          1. Ah…. that was okay… OUR HOLY SOUTHERN HONOR!!!!

            And how many people here would PREFER senators being beaten into comas on the Senate floor on a daily basis? I think quite a few WOULD….

            1. C-SPAN ratings would sky-rocket.

        5. some obscure rule

          It’s not obscure at all. Senators are not supposed to impugn each other’s character on the Senate floor.

          The letter from Mrs. King, who is the Hillary Clinton of the civil rights movement, basically said Sessions tried to take voting rights away from black people, with no evidence whatsoever.

          Warren was warned that she was breaking the rule, and continued to attack Sessions in this manner. It’s not like they just caught her in an unintentional violation of it.

          1. It’s still a stupid rule, especially when the entire discussion is on whether the Senator in question is fit to be Attorney General. What are his colleagues supposed to do — clam up and vote 99-0 to affirm?

    2. That video really needs the MLG shitposting treatment.

  14. This is totally less of a local story than Sloopy’s mom. 100%

    1. Parma Municipal Judge Deanna O’Donnell


  15. They should talk to a good lawyer.

      1. “If you have a phone — or a computer — you have a lawyer.”

        1. Forgive Crusty-he’s probably never been down this way. But, when you’re right, you ARE right.

    1. One call, that’s all!


      1. Aw, Rich, come on! No one had interacted with it for days! It was desperately starving for attention, and you fed it!!

        1. It isn’t midnight yet, is it?

        2. It’s a sock.

          Kinda hard keeping it from worshiping The Precious.

  17. Shouldn’t this be protected speech even if he was exposing a sting, like flashing your lights to warn of a speed trap? What a bunch of assholes.

    We had a cigarette sting at a general store/pizza place I worked at and though unfortunately my coworker working cashier got busted, the first thing we did was call everyone else in town to warn them what was coming and give a description. Nobody else got busted.

    1. That… that is comedy gold. When Maxine Waters turns a lighter shade of pale, you done fucked up.

    2. Her perennial reelection says everything you need to know about the average San Francisco voter.

      1. And is exactly why I roll my eyes at Hillary’s popular vote “win”.

      2. Who else are they going to vote for? The Democrat machine is NEVER going to allow her to be primaried, and SF voters sure as hell ain’t voting GOP.

        1. They could easily elect a RINO, though. I think they actually approve of the imbecile.

    3. Except TARP and other bailouts of course.

  18. Robby’s article has some more left-wing people on it, might have be posted somewhere else. Anyway one guy was complaining about how libertarians don’t want to ally with the left to stop the ‘more fascist elements’ of the Trump administration. This is how convincing he is:

    Then it seems like you don’t know the meaning of “fascist” either. Nobody threatened to destroy the press under Clinton or Obama as far as I remember. Nobody threatened marriage equality. Nobody carted members of your side off to prison when your side burned Obama in effigy or called him “nigger president” (nobody’s carted Trump protestors off to prison yet, but in another year or two I’m not so sure I’ll be saying that).

    Well gee, you called me a racist, I guess I’ll have to help you!

    1. Yeah, never mind Obama’s assault on free speech on college campuses or his blaming a YouTube video for a terrorist attack that led to its creator getting locked in a cage. Never mind the fascism/terrorism displayed by the Berkeley rioters. Never mind the pure speculation that Trump protesters will be hauled off to camps and how speculation is not evidence of anything except maybe the author’s projection.

    2. Both Obama and Hillary opposed marriage equality for a significant portion of Obama’s tenure. Known asshole and arch conservative Dick Cheney supported marriage equality for almost a decade earlier. Not to mention the dreaded Kochtopuss who have supported marriage equality for decades.

      1. I think they meant Bill, not Hillary. Which is even more hilarious.

    3. Nobody threatened marriage equality.

      Clinton signed DOMA, and Obama opposed SSM until it was all but inevitable.

      1. “Nobody threatened marriage equality.”

        Lying liar lies.

    4. Nobody carted members of your side off to prison when your side burned Obama in effigy or called him “nigger president” (nobody’s carted Trump protestors off to prison yet, but in another year or two I’m not so sure I’ll be saying that).

      It’s that fascist moment that they’re all sooooo sure (to be honest, wishing) will happen.

      1. “We’re not content with being fake martyrs any longer!”

  19. On a very special 21 Jump Street

  20. For some reason this story makes me 10,000X more outraged than the countless times i’ve heard similar types of shit.

    1. its basically, “That book Catch-22 really has some great ideas on how government should work”

  21. 1) Using the word “sting” sure makes it sound like he knew what these kids were doing.

    2) He should still win on First Amendment grounds.

    3) Why are these kids agreeing to participate in this entrapment anyway? Is it part of some agreement in order to avoid charges for something themselves? Or are they simply so brainwashed that they think they are doing good?

    1. The little narcs probably want to grow up to be cops themselves.

  22. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour… This is what I do


  23. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour… This is what I do


  24. I know it’s a nitpick, but “trying to prosecute”?
    They ARE prosecuting him.

    1. I’m making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbor told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I’m my own boss. This is what I do>>


  25. Would love to meet the parents of those teens who allowed them to partake in this act.

    The state and progs have no issues with using kids as pawns and props I notice.


  26. the people should get to choose where their tax dollars go.

  27. What a load of bollix. America, your country is fucked.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.