Liquor board finds pub guilty of serving minors

Fake IDs easy to get, Loyola College students testify during hearing

October 29, 1999|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's liquor board found one York Road pub guilty of selling alcohol to minors and dismissed charges against another yesterday after hours of testimony from Loyola College students who said they had easy access to fake identifications.

Most of the 30 Loyola College students who testified at the Board of Liquor License Commissioners hearing said they could find fake driver's licenses on and off campus, through the Internet and previous owners of false IDs.

Board members heard testimony in underage drinking cases brought against two bars after a Labor Day weekend police raid that was aimed at bartenders serving those younger than age 21.

The board fined the owners of Irish Sea, in the 5800 block of York Road, $500 -- then suspended the sentence. Police and liquor board inspectors said seven underage students from Loyola were served alcohol in the bar.

Charges were dismissed yesterday against Swallow at the Hollow, in the 5900 block of York Road, which had been cited for selling alcohol to 34 minors. Police and liquor board officials failed to record the proper date on documents. Police noted the raid took place Sept. 6; a liquor board document was dated Sept. 5. The raid took place shortly after midnight.

Liquor board commissioners took responsibility for the mistake.

The late-night raids on the first weekend after students returned to Loyola led Baltimore police to issue 28 criminal citations to students for underage drinking. More than 30 college students were subpoenaed -- not all were criminally cited -- to testify against Irish Sea or Swallow at the Hollow.

A case against a third bar, Favorites Pub in the 5800 block of York Road, was dismissed by the board last week.

The crackdown raised concerns among students and administrators at Loyola College, which enforces a strict ban on drinking by students under age 21 on campus. At the hearing, Associate Dean of Students Joseph Behan said, "Loyola is deeply engaged and we do hold students accountable."

College officials said some of the students would face disciplinary action based on what was disclosed at the hearing.

In response to questions by liquor board Chairman Leonard Skolnik, most of the students acknowledged using fake identification cards to get into the bars.

Many of the clean-cut students said they were using fake driver's licenses that they had bought -- paying from $30 to $60 -- and some said they had borrowed one from a friend.

"Everybody has twins out there," said Skolnik, shaking his head. "Amazing."

One bar owner told the board it is impossible to control everyone who is served when fake IDs flourish, or to avoid violations. "You can't spend thousands of dollars taking [video] pictures of [carding] underage kids who want the rite of passage of having a beer," said Linda Clarke, a co-owner of Swallow at the Hollow.

Irish Sea co-owner Jim Caldwell said it is hard to spot every fake identification. "We're not in the bar business to baby-sit," he said. "And it's true, an instant market is the college kids."

Several Loyola students said the York Road corridor is a convenient drinking destination.

Commenting about fake IDs, Loyola senior Pete Salata, a part-time bartender at Favorites who was not part of yesterday's hearing, said, "No one ever throws one away. They circulate and get recycled."

The culture of binge-drinking is disturbing, said sophomore Dave O'Brien, who lives on a "substance-free" dormitory hall with 40 other students. "I'm not a puritan, but here the culture of bingeing is so pervasive."

Police say they will target underage drinking, which is a problem at most local universities.

Maj. Robert F. Biemiller, Northern District commander, said raiding bars, turning off the music and turning up the lights on the first weekend back at school -- and the first college night out for freshmen -- is an approach that "sets the standard right off."

Skolnik suggested at the hearing that Loyola place a date of birth on every student identification -- a move that college officials said they would consider.

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