Eighteen arrested with fake IDs
Young people using fake driver license ID cards to illegally enter and get served at establishments selling alcohol may want to think twice about continuing the practice. Likewise, older people loaning their license to underaged alcohol-buyers may want to think twice.
Until now, the penalty for being caught using a fake ID has been slight — typically a $50-to-$100 fine plus court surcharge.
But because the use of fake IDs has reached epidemic proportions, a Department of Motor Vehicles senior field investigator is seeking administrative empowerment to enact driver’s license suspensions as the penalty for such misuses. The suspensions would require a hearing, but could be transacted within the existing framework of motor vehicle law.
The investigator is Ryan Lang, who was an eyewitness to Geneseo’s fake ID culture last Saturday evening, Jan. 29.
Beginning at about 10 p.m. until about 1:30 a.m., Ryan, in the hiddden company of Geneseo Police Officers Ben Swanson and Ray Goulet and New York State Troopers Tom Shultz and Craig Bianchi conducted “Operation Prevent” at various drinking establishments in Geneseo. The detail scrutinized driver’s license identification at the Idle Hour, the Inn Between, the Vital Spot, Kellys and The Statesmen.
Ryan stays in plain clothes at the door with the bouncer. In questionable instances Ryan, who is an expert at spotting fake IDs, will look at the card and make a determination as to its legitimacy. When a fake ID is encountered, the no longer out-of-sight officers are on hand to make the arrest.
Eighteen individuals were charged with the crime of possessing a forged or fraudulent license. Most or all are students at SUNY Geneseo. All fake IDs are confiscated by Lang and not returned.
Of the 18 individuals charged, ten possessed someone else’s New York State driver’s license. Of those arrested with fake licenses, only one had a fake New York State license. There were two fakes from Maine, one from Ohio, one from Massachusetts, and three from Pennsylvania.
Any out-of-state driver’s license is immediately under suspicion, simply because the great majority of SUNY Geneseo students are New York residents. (Out-of-state students pay substantially higher tuition.)
The Pennsylvania fake IDs were highly authentic in appearance, Geneseo Police Chief Eric Osganian reports. Interviews with the arrested persons indicated that the Pennsylvania IDs were purchased from a website, where the cost is $200. The customer makes a credit card purchase and receives his fake license in the mail.
As another aspect of his prevention efforts, Ryan is researching possible ways of shutting the website down. However, the location of the vendor is not known. Furthermore, the vendor is selling the ID as a “novelty,” not supposedly meant for gaining illegal entries into taverns or making illegal retail purchases of alcohol. Therefore, finding, charging and prosecuting this and other vendors would be a difficult task, raising jurisdictional questions and perhaps requiring federal involvement.
Chief Osganian estimated that the fraction of people entering Geneseo drinking establishments with fake IDs might be as high as five-to-ten percent.
The fake ID details commenced in 2009 and have been occurring at the rate of about two each college semester. However, the problem seems to keep getting worse. The 18 violators arrested Saturday were the highest “take” yet.
“That’s why Ryan is looking into the possibility of taking this to the next level and having the real licenses suspended,” Osganian said.