Alan Yang, of Alan Yang Inc., owner of the Jade Palace restaurant in Stratham, New Hampshire, sits in a courtroom in this Portsmouth Herald file photo. Yang's firm was found not guilty on three of four charges related to serving alcohol to three local men who died in a car crash after leaving the restaurant. The charge on which Yang's corporation was found guilty was serving alcohol to the underage driver in the crash. Credit: Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald

BRENTWOOD, New Hampshire — A jury on Monday found the corporation owning Jade Palace guilty of serving alcohol to underage Jack Perreault, the 20-year-old driver in a 2016 crash that killed him and two 21-year-old friends.

Alan Yang Inc., the corporate entity owning the Stratham Chinese restaurant, however, was found not guilty on three charges accusing the owner of over-serving the three Exeter High School graduates.

Alan Yang Inc., owned by Alan Yang, the man who served the men, now faces up to a $100,000 fine and the potential of additional discipline from the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.

The jury started deliberations on Friday and spent four hours deliberating on Monday before reaching the verdict in Rockingham Superior Court.

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The company was charged with four felony counts of prohibited alcohol sales alleging on the night of Feb. 29, 2016, Perreault, Malachi Davis, and Hunter Vars each consumed three alcoholic drinks at the restaurant in approximately an hour and a half. They were later killed in a one-car crash in Kensington some 90 minutes after leaving the restaurant.

Judge N. William Delker said at the start of the trial, Yang’s company was liable for the same criminal penalties as an individual charged with the same offenses even though it was the corporation on trial. Had Yang been charged as an individual, the fines would have been in the $2,000 to $4,000 range and he would have faced jail time on misdemeanor charges.

Yang was initially charged individually with four misdemeanor counts of prohibited alcohol sales in August 2017 for being the person who served the three men three zombie drinks within an hour and a half, but the charges were dismissed in December of last year.

Deputy County Attorney Jennifer Haggar said the reason why the state failed to prosecute Yang’s misdemeanor charges was due to the expiration of the year-long statute of limitations to pursue misdemeanors.

During the trial, Yang’s attorney Jerome Blanchard pointed out the state began its investigation as a negligent homicide committed by Perreault and accused the state of looking for a scapegoat saying it was, “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

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Haggar said the investigation into the company’s actions that night began as soon as Perreault died.

Over the course of the five-day trial, the state and Yang’s defense attorney argued over the specific amount of alcohol in the so-called “zombie” drinks the men consumed, which contain four ounces of liquor. However, the defense claimed the men were served “zombie specials,” which contained two and a half ounces of liquor.

Blanchard, Yang’s defense attorney, provided receipts indicating the men purchased zombie specials. Blanchard asked investigators on the witness stand why they did not ask Yang how he made zombie specials versus exclusively a regular zombie drink.

The state claimed Perreault furnished a vertically-oriented ski pass as the form of identification he presented to Yang. Perreault’s mother, Hope McDonald, testified her son did not carry a wallet and kept his money and identifications loose in his pockets, and the ski pass was the only form of his identification found at the crash scene. She said when she arrived at the Boston hospital he was airlifted to, her son did not have any identifying information on his hospital wristband.

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Yang testified Perreault furnished a vertically-oriented valid New Hampshire driver’s license belonging to an individual over the age of 21 the night he was served but prosecutors pointed out in closing arguments that all youth operator licenses in New Hampshire, which are vertically-oriented, expire on the driver’s 21st birthday.

Yang testified on the witness stand through a translator he thought the men, “looked like they were just coming in for the alcohol, not just pleasure.”

The night of the accident, police said Perreault crashed his 2001 Toyota 4Runner into several trees while driving in Kensington, ejecting the three men from the vehicle. Davis and Vars, both 21 at the time, were killed immediately and Perreault died in a Boston hospital several days later.

Jade Palace has a history of liquor license violations, including a suspension in 2013 resulting from two violations in 2012. The restaurant was cited by the state Liquor Commission’s Enforcement Division for serving alcohol to a minor and for failing to require the purchaser to show identification.

Delker set Alan Yang Inc.’s sentencing for Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. in Rockingham Superior Court.

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