The doorman at Bijou on Stuart Street was a bit suspicious of the young-looking woman with the Maine license trying to get into the club one October night, even though her ID checked out OK on the computerized scanner he uses. So he turned to a trick police and the more experienced door staff use to ferret out people with fraudulent IDs: He asked her the state capital. When she replied "Augusta," he let her in - because most people who get fake IDs don't expect to be quizzed on facts about the state they're allegedly from and can't answer such questions.
In hindsight, he told the Boston Licensing Board this morning, he wishes he'd gone an extra step and asked her to show him her Instagram and Facebook pages on her phone, because the underage Suffolk student wound up unconscious in a restroom stall, possibly from too much cocaine, leading to the club's appearance before the board to explain the "intoxicated underage patron found onsite."
According to police, club managers and the doorman, the woman appeared totally fine when allowed in. But shortly before closing, two off-duty nurses who happened to enter a Bijou women's room rushed out to tell staffers to call 911 because there was an unresponsive woman inside one of the stalls.
As EMTs arrived, a club manager said, he went up to the woman's panicked friend and asked her what was going on. At first the woman said she didn't know, but the club manager, who said people who have too much to drink don't just go out like that, said he pressed her, that it was important to know what had happened to her to get her the right kind of medical help. "Come on, this isn't booze," he recalled telling her. He said she then acknowledged her friend had been both drinking and doing cocaine.
The manager continued that he was unable to find any evidence the woman had actually bought any alcohol in the club - her name did not appear in the night's credit-card receipts and none of the club's bartenders recognized her.
The board considers Thursday whether Bijou had any blame for the incident and, if so, what punishment to levy.
After hearing the evidence, Boston Licensing Board member Liam Curran raised a suggestion for the doorman and his counterparts at other clubs across the city: Buy a jeweler's loupe.
Curran said that while the Chinese counterfeiters who sell fake licenses online have gotten really good at their craft - to the point of churning out IDs that can beat computerized scanners, it turns out there's one thing they still haven't been able to do: Replicate the "micro-printing" many states now embed in their official IDs. Many of the wavy lines on a Massachusetts license, for example, actually consist of the name of the state or the name of its counties repeated over and over.
Curran said the words, which many, if not most, people, can't pick out, are viewable with a jeweler's loupe.
"It's something I'll look into," the Bijou doorman said.