Burrito discount cards don't make good fake IDs, Dutch exchange student learns

On an unscheduled inspection of the Sidebar on Bromfield Street last month, BPD Sgt. William Gallagher asked a young-looking customer with a draft beer for his ID. The man handed over a Dutch ID showing him to be over 21. But then Gallagher flexed the card - a standard step to check whether an ID is fake, because fake IDs often have cheap laminating that separates from the paper underneath when bent.

The laminating split open and out dropped a card promising 20% off a burrito at a British burrito chain, Gallagher told the Boston Licensing Board this morning. Gallagher added that left behind in the newly split laminating were the two pieces of paper on which the 20-year-old - an exchange student at BU - had printed what looked like the front and back of a Dutch ID card.

Gallagher cited the bar for serving a minor. The guy, in turn, will be charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol, although the odds of him appearing in court are low - he went back to the Netherlands at the end of last month.

At this and other hearings this morning for other bars also caught serving alcohol to minors - including what was the last such violation ever at the venerable but now closed Punter's Pub on Huntington Avenue - bar managers and lawyers asked the board for leniency, saying they are grappling with ever more sophisticated fake IDs, many of which now pass as good even through the expensive scanners more and more bars buy.

Police say the Dutch kid with a burrito card was an exception - students more typically go online to buy IDs from Chinese companies that are a bit sturdier and more realistic.

Gallagher and Det. Daniel MacDonald said the Punter's Pub incident on Dec. 12 involved five Wentworth students with fake Massachusetts licenses - until recently a rarity because our IDs were hard to fake convincingly. "They're good IDs," MacDonald said of the fake Mass licenses confiscated that night. "They're very hard to spot." A sixth student had a fake New Hampshire ID.

Finnbarr Murray, co-owner of Flann O'Brien's on Tremont Street on Mission Hill, had to explain how two kids got drinks on Dec. 11 - one a margarita, one a bottle of Miller Lite.

Murray said the two young people BPD found that night had their IDs checked by the bartender. He said that to help prevent a recurrence of the Dec. 11 incident, he now has his doormen come in earlier, on the theory they will have more time to scrutinize IDs than a busy bartender.

Murray showed up with several dozen fake IDs - and several fake passports - confiscated from students. He also brought one of the bar's two computerized scanners, but said they're proving of limited use, because so many fake IDs now provide bar-code data to fool the machines.

Murray said he now pays his door staff $10 for every fake ID they catch. Murray added that one of the tools they use is a jeweler's loupe - with which to pick up the incredibly tiny type some states now use to print things on licenses. Fakers still haven't perfected copying those lines; Murray said the technique is particularly useful for catching the fake Rhode Island licenses that seem to be the rage these days.

MacDonald suggested that bars in student areas, such as Flann O'Brien's, ask people for their college IDs as backup, since they usually list the holder's year of graduation, which can provide a harried doorman another bit of information on just how old the person might be.

What could be Punter's Pub owner Steven Newman's last appearance before the board was to explain how six underage Wentworth students got drinks - some beers, some cranberry-vodka drinks - on Dec. 12. It turns out the bartender never asked any of the six for IDs, because he had served them in the past, based on the fake IDs they showed him.

Newman apologized for the gaffe. In practical terms, there's not much the board could do, since Newman closed the bar six days later and is planning on selling its license.

Newman added that although the establishment is shut, the actual bar inside will live on - the Museum of Fine Arts across the street agreed to take it, although not for actually serving alcohol.

After 48 years in business, "it's an unfortunate way to go out," Newman's attorney, Dennis Quilty, said.

Also having to explain underage drinking was Eataly in the Prudential Center Mall, where BPD licensing detectives found two underage people - one 20, one 19, at the pizza bar with Corona beers. One had a fake Michigan license, the other had his older brother's valid Pennsylvania license. An Eataly manager told the board all staffers were retrained in ID checking and that anybody who shows an ID that gives their age as 25 or younger now has to show a second form of ID.

The licensing board could decide at a meeting on Thursday whether any of the citations merit punishment and, if so, how much.


Free tagging: 



Punter's at the MFA!

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Will it be in the section where they have rooms decorated with furniture from different periods of American history? I spent a few evenings in Punter's. Now one of my former drinking spots is going to be part of a museum. God, this make me feel old!

I really hope

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that the plan is to do one of those "historical room" exhibits, but with the interior of Punter's. Although for real accuracy they'd have to replicate the smell too...


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The upperclass student pub at his high school had beer on tap.


So what happens if the guy

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So what happens if the guy couldn't change his travel plans to make the court date? Does he get convicted in absentia, and banned from the U.S. for 10 years?

I'm no lawyer

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But I believe that he will have a bench warrant. It might be tough for him to reenter the US, but if he had means, he could retain a lawyer to smooth things over before he hits the border. Not to lessen the crime, but this does not rise to the level or violent or even property crime. More like not paying your speeding tickets.


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Kid's been drinking beer since he turned sixteen, including at school events.

The real crime is our laws that rival those in Sharia countries, but are way out of step with supposedly developed nations.

It's almost as if underage

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It's almost as if underage drinking occurs all the time. With, um, ....what negative effects exactly?

How many underage drinks were

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How many underage drinks were consumed in the timespan between this unfortunate death and the previous underage drinking-related death? How does the risk of underage drinking compare with other activities which are perfectly legal?


The "not knowing what they're doing" is a separate issue

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Adolescents in this country don't know how to drink responsibly because alcohol is such a taboo in this country. Most parents don't talk about it, let alone let kids try it at home with supervision. Even when parents want to be responsible and model safe alcohol use, and even with laws that permit letting your own child try it at home, we have a culture in which parents really aren't actually permitted to do so. I'm posting anonymously because I work for DCF, but I see cases in which an issue is made of parents consuming alcohol at home with their children present. Not tiny kids who need 24/7 supervision, and not being drunk -- I see workers making an issue of parents having alcohol in the home and drinking it in moderation at their own home. I saw one instance in which a case was opened because the family was consuming alcohol at a family cookout at which children were present. There was no allegation that anyone was drunk, and there was nothing mentioned that meets the state laws for what actually constitutes abuse or neglect (an action or inaction that causes serious lifelong harm or is highly likely to do so), but the worker just didn't think that people should drink alcohol while responsible for children. I've also seen parents found to have neglected their children for allowing their own children to try alcohol. Again, not unsafe amounts for their age/size, and in their own home with only their own children, which is legal. Individual families can't even fight against the American idea of alcohol being a super seekrit taboo, because doing so in and of itself is such a taboo. What we really need to do is gradually move toward the German/French/Dutch model where alcohol is normalized and teens have all tried it at home and it's not any big deal.



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I work alongside DCF (not for). Parents being labeled neglectful for having a drink or two while "not ensuring a sober caretaker at all times" is one of the more annoying, but sadly common, knee-jerk DCF reactions.

I think if the general public in MA would be petrified if they had any idea that every single parent in this state is just one innocent decision away from DCF condemnation and state intervention. Not all, but plenty of DCF workers are overly-critical, make highly subjective heavy-handed decisions and are bolstered by juvenile courts operating in secrecy.

That's ridiculous. Individual

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That's ridiculous. Individual DCF workers shouldn't be allowed to make up the rules.

It goes against the basic principle of having written laws.

There should be clear guidelines for what is and isn't allowed in front of your kids. Preferably decided by the legislature.

How dare you!

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If Adam were underage at a drinking party, he would drink you under the table, ridicule you in front of the cool kids, and then go home with the Hot Girl.

You would go home to pleasure yourself, get in trouble with your parents, and spend the next morning vomiting.

Adam is on a whole other level. I'm surprised you would even question Him.


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I'm not that other poster, merely a big Universal Hub fan. Maybe I got carried away up there but You could have asserted your superiority and IP banned that poster if not for your magnanimity. Still it must be hard to ignore these petty comments from internet posters when you are better than all of them.

Can't do that

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These cops would have to learn how to investigate real crimes and would lose the important psychological benefits that come from harassing young people on thin pretenses.

If you don't like the law ...

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Then work to change it. In the meantime, the licensing cops (all three of them, in a department of roughly 1,200 officers) are charged with enforcing the law. Don't like that? Again, work to change the law.

The DA and cops decide all

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The DA and cops decide all the time to use their discretion and not enforce minor crimes that are still on the books.