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Father distributes alcohol to underage son

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A birthday celebration between an Oxford father and son ended with a trip to the hospital and an arrest June 8.

Stephen A. Townsend, 37, told authorities he and his juvenile son were having a birthday party on his behalf -- a party that involved beer and vodka, said Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence.

According to reports, Townsend allowed his under-aged son to consume large quantities of alcohol. The boy drank to the point that his vision blurred, and he reported eventually losing vision in both eyes, Lawrence said.

Townsend was taken into custody and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

He was released from the Izard County Detention Center after posting a $575 bond.

In an unrelated incident, an Oxford man currently on felony probation related to drugs was arrested June 13 for similar charges.

Ricky Ray, 27, is facing additional charges after testing positive for marijuana and methamphetamine when he was pulled over for a routine traffic stop, Lawrence said.

The sheriff said he was parked along Gin Street in Oxford while patrolling and was approached by a vehicle driven by Ray.

Lawrence knew Ray did not have a driver's license, so he initiated the traffic stop and asked Ray to step out of the vehicle, he said.

As Ray was being pulled over, an Oxford resident contacted Izard County dispatch and said a vehicle matching the description of the car Ray was driving had thrown a plastic bag out the window moments prior to being pulled over, according to Lawrence.

Drug dogs were brought to search the area. Officers found rolling papers on Ray's person as well as the small bag he had disposed of and confirmed it to be containing marijuana, Lawrence said.

Ray was released from the Izard County Detention Facility June 15 after posting a $5,000 bond for driving on a suspended license, possessing a controlled substance and possessing an instrument of crime.

Sheriff Lawrence said he wanted to warn Izard County residents of a phone scam that has been circulating throughout the area.

He said that numerous calls have recently been made to Izard County citizens asking for monetary donations to help in the purchase of protective vests for deputies.

"(This) department does not participate in phone solicitation for money, nor do they work through third parties to do so," Lawrence said.

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