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Facebook used to nab underage drinkers Teens held party in justice's cabin

When a teen wanted to advertise a beer-soaked "Cabin Fever" party that drew more than 30 young people to a Chautauqua County cabin, state police say he used Facebook.

And when troopers wanted to track down the organizer and underage drinkers from the raucous, three-day party, photos posted by the guests on Facebook came in handy as evidence.

State police announced this weekend they have arrested a Fredonia teen for throwing the shindig in a cabin he doesn't own, and 13 others for underage drinking during the beer bash.

The lengthy investigation, which began in late March, isn't over yet because troopers still want to find out who provided the alcohol, said Trooper Dennis Gould of the Fredonia barracks.

The seasonal cabin where the party took place, on Zahm Road in Arkwright, is owned by Peter T. Smith, a Town of Sheridan justice, Gould said.

Smith has taken to leaving the door to the cabin unlocked over the winter because people regularly damaged the door when breaking into the cabin in the off-season.

The investigation began March 27, when Smith's grandson was driving in the area and saw an abandoned vehicle near the cabin.

He and his girlfriend went inside to check on the cabin and found beer cans and plastic cups strewn everywhere. A counter top was damaged, light bulbs were broken and fireworks had been set off inside the cabin, Gould said.

Troopers quickly tracked down the owner of the abandoned vehicle, and this led them to many of the others who attended the party.

Smith's daughter-in-law then found photos on Facebook of party guests, many underage, drinking or holding beers in their hands, Gould said.

Gould arrested 13 people for underage drinking, a violation, after conducting interviews with people in their teens and 20s who attended the affair.

State police believe between 30 and 50 people, most of them underage, were there, but not all were cooperative and many denied drinking at the party. No one would say where they got the beer.

"There's kids that lied to me -- there's no doubt in my mind," Gould said.

Those who were charged admitted to drinking, were caught drinking in a photo on Facebook, or both.

The Chautauqua County District Attorney's Office and state police lawyers advised that a photo showing someone younger than 21 consuming alcohol provided sufficient evidence for an arrest, Gould said.

Scott Purol, 18, of Fredonia, was charged with felony third-degree burglary, misdemeanor petit larceny and misdemeanor criminal nuisance because he claimed in a Facebook ad for the party that the cabin was his, Gould said.

His "Cabin Fever" ad publicized a party on March 24, but the guests had so much fun it continued for the next two days, the trooper said.

Purol faces three counts of each charge for each day of the party. He and the others who were charged must return to Arkwright Town Court at a later date.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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