An Albert Lea woman who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for violating Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 executive orders was released from custody Saturday morning.
Lisa Hanson, owner of The Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro, refused to close her business when Gov. Walz ordered all bars and restaurants in the state to shut down. She was found guilty of six misdemeanors as a result.
Prosecutors argued for a $500 fine and several days in jail, but Judge Joseph Bueltel wanted to make an example out of Hanson, which he made clear in court. Bueltel reprimanded Hanson for “making money” while “suckers down the street closed.”
“You don’t get to decide you’re governor,” he told her, handing down a 90-day sentence and a $1,000 fine.
“I think you’re a political protester,” he added, according to the Albert Lea Tribune. “You knowingly and willingly violated the law to make a point.”
The judge accused Hanson of exploiting the situation for profit — using phrases like “roll in the dough” and “cashed in” — but her restaurant is now closed and she’s been fined $27,000 in connection to civil cases brought against her.
The judge also said he didn’t think Hanson could be “rehabilitated” like other defendants.
“You got to understand the law applies to you,” he said. “You were a public risk because you kept your business open.”
Hanson was immediately taken into custody after her verdict was read Dec. 9. She spent Christmas in jail and missed the birth of her 10th grandchild.
Hanson was released early Saturday morning after serving two-thirds of her 90-day sentence and spent a “quiet weekend with family and friends,” her husband, Vern, told Alpha News.
“Lisa is home and doing very well. Many supporters and friends were outside the jail to celebrate her release,” he said. “She looks forward to getting back in the saddle fighting for the cause with renewed vigor.”