Two Massachusetts public school teachers have been convicted of providing alcohol to minors during an underage drinking party at their home two years ago.
John and Josephine Penza of Saugus were at home on Aug. 18, 2013, during a party at which underage guests were drinking alcohol, according to the Essex District Attorney's Office.
They were sentenced to nine months in jail, with 30 days to be served and the balance suspended for two years. They must also remain drug and alcohol free, submit to random screens, and perform 50 hours of community service.
A Peabody District Court jury returned guilty verdicts last week against the couple.
John Penza, 52, is an Everett High School teacher. Josephine Penza, 55, teaches at a Medford elementary school.
"Parents can no longer turn a blind eye when it comes to underage drinking," District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. "The statute makes it clear that allowing a minor to possess alcohol on your property violates the law. The sentence imposed underscores the seriousness of the offense and I hope will send a message to other parents who think letting young people drink in their home is no big deal."
Prosecutors said police responded to a noise complaint around midnight on Aug. 18, 2013, and found an estimated 70 minors, including a 16-year-old girl in an upstairs bathroom who was highly intoxicated and had to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Testimony at trial indicated that Josephine Penza told the girl to tell police that she was suffering from food poisoning.
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Evidence was also submitted showing a table that had been set up for the purpose of a drinking game and numerous empty alcohol containers.
The Penzas were defended by attorney Francis O'Brien Jr. He had sought to have the charges dismissed, according to the Daily Item, saying his clients "never knowingly provided alcohol to be consumed by minors." According to court documents, the party started as a birthday party for their 20-year-old son but quickly got out of control.