Van Thien Pham and the bottle of Corona he sold that may send him to jail

The sale of beer to an underage buyer doesn't usually make headlines. But in the case of Van Thien Pham, they're understandable.

Back in 2007, according to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, Pham sold liquor to an underage teen who subsequently got into a crash -- one that took the life of Samara Stricklen, seventeen. He wound up on probation, the provisions of which banned him from working in a liquor store. But he was behind the counter again last Wednesday when an undercover police explorer wanted to buy a jumbo bottle of Corona.

That sale could put him behind bars -- and not the kind that deal in alcohol. Get the details below:

Probation Violation Alleged for Van Pham Caught in Lakewood Liquor Store Sting

A Westminster man who is on probation for illegally selling alcohol to under-aged teens is accused of doing it again. Van Thien Pham, 47, was working at Alameda Square Liquors on March 13, 2007 when he sold liquor to an under-aged teen. The teen and his friends drank the alcohol and later that night while driving around Green Mountain they caused a two-car collision that claimed the life of 17-year-old Samara Stricklen and injured 20-year-old Seth Mutschler.

Van Pham was again working at Alameda Square Liquors on April 14, 2010 when he is alleged to have sold a 24-ounce bottle of Corona beer to an under-aged male without asking for identification. The under-aged male was an undercover Police Explorer as part of a liquor store compliance operation being conducted by the Lakewood Police Department. The liquor store is owned by Pham's wife.

Pham is still on probation from the 2007 case and is prohibited from working in a liquor store. Six people were charged following the collision near the intersection of West Alameda and Florida in Lakewood. The driver of the car was 17-year-old Nanette LaFleur.

Pham was indicted by the District Attorney's Office in June 2007 on ten counts of Unlawfully Providing Alcohol to a Minor. During the course of the grand jury investigation, prosecutors learned that March 13, 2007 was not the only time Pham had sold liquor to minors and that he previously sold liquor to the same teen that made the purchase on the night of the collision on Green Mountain.

On May 14, 2008 Pham pled guilty to ten counts of Providing Alcohol to a Minor, each is a class one misdemeanor. He was sentenced on July 9, 2008 to two years in jail followed by three years probation, 32 hours of community service and to participate on a MADD panel. The judge also ordered that Pham never again work in a liquor store.

Working in a liquor store and the illegal sale of liquor are both in violation of Pham's probation. A petition to revoke his probation based on these violations is being filed with the court. A revocation hearing has been set for June 1 at 8:30 in Division 1 of the Jefferson County Court.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts