The Barrington doctor facing a charge of procuring alcohol for underage drinkers returned to Sixth District Court last Friday, Aug. 23, and pleaded nolo contendere, essentially meaning he did not wish to contest the charge.
Dr. Bruce M. Becker, 57, changed his initial not-guilty plea made on Aug. 7 – his first appearance in court. He was charged by Barrington police on July 30 with violating Rhode Island’s “social host law” – a misdemeanor.
Becker paid a $500 fine and $138.50 in court costs, according to the official disposition of the case in District Court. He hosted a drinking party for his son's 18th birthday and 30 teenage friends at his 26 Bullock Ave. home on the Palmer River on July 30.
Becker is a professor at Brown University's Alpert Medical School. Barrington police said they found beer, vodka and champagne after breaking up the party at which officers said Becker told the teens to run as soon as he saw officers appear at his home in response to a report of loud music from a DJ that was disturbing the neighbors.
Many of the teen then reportedly took off from the backyard of the house, dropping beer cans as they fled.
Becker also reportedly advised four teens who did not flee the backyard to refuse to take a preliminary Breathalyzer test (PBT) to determine if they were drinking.
Becker told police that he purchased soda for his son's 18th birthday party and didn't know that alcohol was being served. Police said a table was set up with Solo cups for playing “beer pong,” a popular drinking game among teens and college students. Found at the party were several cases of Natural Light beer and bottles of vodka and champagne.
Barrington Police Chief John LaCross said after Becker’s arrest that he would find it hard to believe “any adult would not know there was an underage drinking party going on” at their home.
Becker allegedly said, according to LaCross: “Oh my God, the police are here. Everybody run.”
Becker was arrested, handcuffed and taken to the police station to be arraigned by a justice of the peace. He was released after the arraignment with an Aug. 7 date to appear in District Court to face the violation. He has referred all comments to his attorney.
Only one of the teens at the party was arrested for underage drinking – a 16-year-old North Kingstown girl who was found with a bottle of whipped cream-flavored vodka in her hands, LaCross said.