A night out on the town for four Tufts freshmen in April ended with one dead on the ground next to a Theater District garage. Now the club that let them reserve a table and share bottles of champagne and vodka has been hit with suspensions lasting more than a year for that and two other incidents involving underage drinkers.
Icon, 100B Warrenton St., can appeal the Boston Licensing Board's license suspension to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
The board levied a five-day punishment for the underage serving that was followed by the student's death the same day it also hit the club with a total of a year and ten days suspension for serving other underage drinkers on two occasions in the month after the teen's death.
Under the board's rules, punishments build on each other - the five-day suspension for the incident involving the death led to a ten-day suspension for an incident on April 8 and then a year-long suspension for yet another incident on May 1.
At a hearing last week, a Boston Police detective testified Alex Bhak, 18, of New York City, had a fake Connecticut license when he and three freshman friends - also armed with fake out-of-state IDs - arrived at Icon around 11 p.m. on April 1 to claim the table they had reserved through Icon's Web site. The four used a credit card to pay $1,006.20 for the table, their own server and a bottle of champagne and a bottle of vodka, the detective said.
When Icon closed at 2 a.m., now on April 2, the four made their way to the Tufts Medical Center parking garage at 274 Tremont St. Around 2:15 a.m. Bhak toppled over a barrier on the sixth or seventh level and fell to the ground, dying on contact, police say.
In a letter to the board, Bhak's mother, Karyn, pleaded for Boston to do something to keep any other kids from dying like her son did - on his first trip ever to a club, using a fake license he bought online:
Within a few hours at Icon, our child had a blood-alcohol level that was far in excess of the legal limit, based on analysis directed by the Medical Examiner's office. Video footage of Alex in the nearby parking garage shows him to be disoriented, unsteady on his feet and vomiting. At approximately 2:15 a.m., Alex fell to his death onto the street below from the 6th or 7th floor of that parking garage. ....
Boston is home to many colleges and universities where thousands of students are under the legal drinking age. These kids, who are often living away from home for the first time, are young and naive - and therefore vulnerable to the lure of easy access to bars and to drinking in the City. Establishments such as Icon exploit this for commercial gain and it must be stopped. We urge the Board to consider stricter requirements and more rigorous procedures for entry into the City's bars and clubs. The reality is that fake IDs are easily attainable via the internet and most college students have them. In this case, Icon employees could have simply asked for a second form of ID, which would have shown that these kids were not of legal drinking age. Icon employees could have simply asked them their address or zip code on the fake IDs, and their inability to answer would have demonstrated that these were not their real identities. These are simple and easily undertaken requirements that could save lives in this City with thousands of underage students. At minimum, we implore the Board to hold Icon Bar accountable, to the fullest extent, in violation of their license for failure to thoroughy inspect an ID and having served and over-served a minor, namely our wonderful and dearly missed son Alex.
BPD licensing detectives routinely advise clubs to take such steps with young looking patrons. However, a BPD detective testified that just five days after Bhak died, an unscheduled inspection showed three more underage drinkers, this time from Emerson, Emmanuel and Northeastern, in the bar. Two of the three said they just walked in - they were never asked for ID.
And in another incident, on May 1, police said, two underage college students from Florida said they waited for a large group to enter the club and then just shuffled in as if they were part of the group. Police found them with vodka drinks.