Albert Lea restaurant owner plans to file Federal lawsuit

FILE — The Interchange Wine & Coffee Bistro is pictured in this undated file photo in Albert...
FILE — The Interchange Wine & Coffee Bistro is pictured in this undated file photo in Albert Lea, Minn.(Facebook/The Interchange)
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 9:49 PM CST
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ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) – An Albert Lea business owner found guilty of violating emergency powers and sentenced to 90 days in jail, is filing her case in the Federal Court.

Lisa Hanson, owner of The Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro was found guilty in Freeborn County court Thursday.

“When we’re being shut down for the very thing that we do, where does that leave us?” Hanson told KTTC last year.

In 2020, Hanson refused to close her restaurant during the second round of COVID related shutdowns. Now, just weeks ahead of the holidays, the mother, wife and grandmother with no criminal history will spend Christmas behind bars.

Hanson represented herself in the less than a week long trial, but a private investigator, Keith Haskell, of the National Action Task Force is helping her with her case.

“She’s lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in all of this. Her restaurant is closed for good. They’re closing at the end of the month. They’re selling all of the equipment when grandma should be here, waiting for three new grandbabies.”

Friday, Haskell attempted to file her case in the Federal Courts in St. Paul, but with inclement weather, he wasn’t able to do so. He plans to file first thing Monday morning.

“We just decided to fight fire with fire,” Haskell said.

The team is also calling for the disbarment of Judge Joseph Bueltel and Albert Lea Prosecutor Kelly Martinez. Haskell believes bias and misconduct played a large role in Hanson’s trial and case.

“Prosecutor misconduct, judiciary misconduct. I’d even go as far as to say judiciary tyranny. This was a railroad job and I can prove it on paper,” he said.

Immediately after sentencing, Hanson was taken to Freeborn County jail, but come Friday morning, she was transferred to Steele County. Despite a guilty conviction, Haskell said Hanson remains in high spirits.

“Lisa is actually in good spirits. When she left the court room her last words were ‘freedom and liberty for all,’” he said. “...We talked about possibilities, she said, ‘hey, no matter what, I’m going to hold my head high.’”

Haskell plans to give the Hanson family “the best Christmas present they’ve ever had.” He adds that a decision will be made quickly after a Federal lawsuit is made, either Monday night or Tuesday morning.

This is a developing story, stay close to KTTC for updates.

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