Ithaca ABC raid leads to 49 busts for fake IDs
ITHACA, N.Y. — During an underage drinking bust by multiple law enforcement agencies in Ithaca, forty-eight people were discovered with fraudulent identification at several bars. Police reported Friday that five of the six bars involved in the sting operation had underage drinkers in possession of fake ids. No one was arrested, but in total, forty-eight teens were cited for the violation of use or possession of forged and/or fictitious licenses. Each person also received appearance tickets which state they must make an appearance at the Ithaca City Court some time in future.
According to New York State Laws, Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 509-6, it is illegal for “any person at any time possess or use any forged, fictitious or illegally obtained license, or use any license belonging to another person.”  Fake IDs don’t only hold penalties for the possessor of said ID, business can also be held liable for selling to minors. Businesses charged with underage sales face penalties as high as $10,000 in New York — although first time offenses usually only see a fine of $2,000-3000. Max sentences seen would be forfeiture of liquor licen
ses completely and criminal misdemeanor charges for employees.
One establishment (and 49th bust to refer our title) that was raided as part of the sting operation was Plumb Tree restaurant on Dryden Road. They have received a citation and appearance ticket for the Ithaca City Court, at a date yet to be determined, for having sold at least one alcoholic beverage to a minor. The restaurants and bars associated with the raids were not reached for comment.
A video of the incident surfaced Friday from Moonie’s Bar & Nightclub, credit to Josh Brokaw. Visible in the video are 10+ law enforcement officers, employees of the bar in question, and patrons presumably being checked for their age and validity of their identification. Thirty-four people were charged with possession of a drivers license that was either fake or belonged to another person from this bar alone, with fourteen more coming from Silky Jones restaurant. These charges followed the raids of multiple establishment along The Commons in Ithaca on Thursday, September 26th.
Governor Cuomo has gone on record before to say, “Underage drinking and fake IDs are not only illegal but can lead to reckless decisions with lifelong consequences,” as well as, “we will continue to take action to hold businesses accountable for illegal sales as well as those who use fake IDs. We have zero tolerance for these offenses in New York.”
Back in October, Cuomo also said the NYSLA (New York State Liquor Authority) has plans to visit over 500 businesses suspected of selling alcohol to minors, ranging from restaurants, bars, nightclubs, liquor stores, and even grocery stores. It’s apparent that the state of New York does not want to allow underaged drinking with the use of fraudulent identification, but what is actually being done to bring about stricter enforcement?
There’s an app for that! New York was the first state which chose to test out a program, which utilizes a phone application developed by Intellicheck Inc, to figure out if one’s ID is fraudulent. Representatives of NY’s Department of Motor Vehicles have been testing the program and claim it has worked 100% of the time. Part of the functionality of the app comes from scanning one’s ID’s barcode, cross checking it with DMV records across the country, and determining if they’re using a real one or not. For now, it will only be available to police officers, which doesn’t help bar owners from tightening up security. For example, Michael O’Leary, owner of Temple Bar and Grille in Rochester, NY is skeptical of the fact that it will only be available for law enforcement, feeling that the governor has not cracked down on much unless penalties for ID use is altered.
DMV representatives say that security reasons prevent them from providing this technology to the bars, but taking a step towards more foolproof ways of identifying fakes will make an impact for the better. They also confirmed that as part of the testing of the application, concertgoers in Saratoga and Nassau counties have been subjected to the scan — and they plan to expand into more areas of the state.
Even with advanced scanners and newer technology, is it going to change? This is a good question, and the answer is most likely no. Despite claims that the application has worked 100% effectively, and successfully been able to spot the fakes, the fact remains that IDs exist on the market which can — and do — fool barcode scanners. Another setback for the technology is that it doesn’t prevent underage bar-goers from borrowing a friend’s real, over the legal limit, ID. Sure, they need to look similar enough to fool the bartender, but factors such as: poor lighting/visibility due to most uses being late at night, differing facial hair, or even hats could make two individuals pass for each other.
While technology will undoubtably evolve and new techniques may arise to prevent underage drinking or the sale of alcohol to minors, bars and employees must remain vigilant to who they’re letting into their establishment. Making sure that bouncers and bartenders have correct instruction on what fakes might look like, or features to check is important in weeding out the poorly made fakes. All college towns in America have a similar task ahead of them, as new faces come to town every year — more and more of which appear to be starting college at age 21!