Smithfield Police: College kids' fake IDs fool everyone

Smithfield Police: College kids' fake IDs fool everyone

SMITHFIELD - In undercover operations March 20 and April 10, police here arrested 36 underage Bryant University students and charged most of them with buying alcohol using fake drivers' licenses so skillfully made that the deception is nearly impossible to detect.

Police Chief Richard St. Sauveur Jr. said a proliferation of bogus licenses, available online from companies in Canada and China, has become a troubling issue both for police and the owners of liquor-serving establishments.

He said no charges were filed against The Last Resort night spot on Farnum Pike, where the arrests were made, because employees there followed accepted procedures in checking IDs and were not at fault.

According to police, all but two of the students were charged with misrepresentation, and all were charged with possession of alcohol by a minor. Fourteen have already appeared in District Court, where they pleaded no contest and were ordered to pay $150 fines and complete 20 hours of community service by May 14 or have their licenses suspended.

The students also absorbed a scolding from Judge Frank J. Cenerini, who reminded them that such activities can affect both their education and future employment.

He later told The Valley Breeze & Observer through a spokesman it should be noted on the other hand that the students who appeared before him were those who obeyed police at the club, in contrast to others who fled.

Twenty-two others students are still awaiting a court appearance, and police said another student who was sought has turned herself in and another was expected to.

According to Det. Michael Rheaume, 10 of the 14 who appeared in court are women and four are men. None was from Smithfield, he said.

Although misrepresentation cases are heard in court, the charges are not classified as criminal. But they can result in license suspensions at the court's discretion, Rheaume said.

St. Sauveur said plainclothes detectives visited the establishment, formerly known as Effin's Last Resort, on two nights after hearing that violations may have been occurring, and approached students who appeared to be underage after seeing them served.

He said the phony licenses, which contained falsified birth dates on an electronic data strip, were virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, even containing specific design markers that various states use to certify licenses as genuine.

Faked licenses are available online for a few hundred dollars from companies that ask customers to send them photos, St. Sauveur said, adding that the quality of the product is "a huge problem for law enforcement - they are almost perfect IDs."

In fact, he said, the IDs appear genuine even when swiped through a scanner police use to identify fakes.

He said police can determine if a license is phony by checking it against the actual record on file in the bearer's home state.

The licenses confiscated in the police operation were ostensibly from Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico, he said.

St. Sauveur said his department is working on a plan "to help establishments so they don't get duped again," but declined to be more specific for security reasons.

He said police will also continue undercover operations.

A Valley Breeze & Observer request for comment from Bryant had not been acknowledged by press time.

Comments

Effins has always been a hot spot for underage drinking. This is not news. The police obviously gave the bar an ultimatum to allow for a sting operation. The logical course of action is a policy to not accept out of state IDs. Then lobby for temporary Liquor IDs like in Mass. But since safety is not the main concern, they will instead continue entrapping college students for the quick pay day.