The owner of Schooter’s Bar in Winnebago is fighting a charge he violated Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order that bars remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
David Schuster, 56, of Delavan pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing conducted via telephone in Faribault County District Court before Judge Troy Timmerman on Tuesday.
“What was explained to us, we followed it to a tee. There was absolutely nothing handed to us on what to follow,” he says. “We never got a copy of the governor’s order from the state or police.”
Schuster says Police Chief Eric Olson came into the bar a day before Walz’s order to close took effect at 5 p.m. on March 17.
The bar operates Monday through Saturday but is closed on Sunday because Schuster does not have a liquor license to be open on that day.
According to Schuster, he and three other friends were playing cards, drinking pop and water and talking business with the doors locked on Sunday, March 22.
The bar wasn’t and hasn’t been open to the public, he says, on a Sunday for the past 14 years.
Schuster is planning to hire an attorney and have his case decided by a jury trial.
Word of the incident quickly spread and some members of the community have expressed their support.
And, Schuster has even been contacted by people he doesn’t know.
“I got a letter from a disabled veteran in Wisconsin who wanted to send me money. Another guy gave me $50,” he says. “People call and say that they want to send me money. I had a guy from Hibbing call me.”
So, Schuster has decided if people are willing to make a donation, perhaps they should get something in return.
It’s a T-shirt costing $15 that has four cards with the president’s image and first names of the four card players, the words What’s Trump and The Naughty Card Gang.
“I guess it’s a fundraiser. It will help pay for my lawyer fees,” he says.
Schuster faces a misdemeanor charge of violating an “emergency powers” order, which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
His next court appearance is a pre-trial hearing scheduled for June 15.