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Fake ID raids bust Loyola students

Photo by Ellen Bauch.

On Thursday, Nov. 20 the Illinois Secretary of State Police conducted two age-verification checks at bars in Rogers Park. By the end of the night, 45 Loyola students were caught in possession of fraudulent, or fake, IDs, according to investigator sergeant Thomas Ferraro.

The first check of the night was at The Pumping Company, located at 6157 N. Broadway, where 12 students were caught with fake IDs.

However, when Ferraro and the three other Illinois Secretary of State police officers arrived at Bar 63, located at 6341 N Broadway, they saw significantly more underage students. The officers caught 33 people with fake IDs, but Ferraro estimated twice as many underage drinkers were initially present.

“People were flying out the doors and there was only so much we could do,” he said. “Those are alarming numbers. That’s a busy night.”

Finding such a high number of fake identifications in one location is not common, but easier access to vendors and lax bouncers at different bars make underaged students in bars more prevalent.

Ferraro and Loyola’s Associate Dean of Students Kenechukwu Mmeje said that, today, students have easier access to vendors that sell fraudulent IDs, and both link this to the unusual number of students seen at Bar 63.

“Nowadays you can go to any host of websites and order in batch quantities fraudulent IDs. They’re mailed to you so there’s not much effort that’s required,” said Mmeje.

While the IDs can be convincing, Ferraro said his officers and trained bouncers can still distinguish between the real and fake IDs.

“There’s a huge amount coming out of China. They’re good, but they aren’t infallible,” Ferraro said. “We obviously know what we’re looking for.”

Citations are typically given on the street outside of the business, but due to the large number of students present and the cold weather in the November bust, Ferraro requested assistance from Loyola’s Campus Safety to transport the students somewhere indoors.

“It was freezing cold out. I wanted to get them to a warm, safe place off the street,” he said.

Although Loyola’s Chief of Police and Director of Campus Safety Thomas Murray was notified by Ferraro earlier that day that checks would occur, transporting the students to Campus Safety’s offices was Loyola’s only involvement in the operation.

Generally, the university has no involvement in scheduling or carrying out raids in bars around Loyola’s campuses.

All 45 students caught in November were arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor: the unlawful possession of fraudulent IDs. With this charge, judges can set bail at $1,500 and require 10 percent of the payment to be made in cash.

However, none of the students charged that night were required to pay. By promising to appear in court, Ferraro said the students could avoid their bail.

“That’s a courtesy we extended to everyone we caught at the Pumping Company and Bar 63 that night,” he said.

Once in court, Ferraro said judges typically issue 40 hours of community service. If these hours are completed within three months, the charges can be dropped from the offender’s record.

However, Loyola students must also face university consequences. Mmeje said students may have to pay a $250 fine each, depending on their prior offenses. Consequences like these are part of Loyola’s efforts to keep students safe, he said.

“When we talk about the safety of our students, obviously there are the larger environmental factors that we try to address, but also the decisions our students make on a personal level that impact their personal safety,” Mmeje said.

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Grace Runkel is the former editor-in-chief of The PHOENIX. She’s from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, a small town just north of Louisville, Kentucky. There she’s interned with multiple news outlets, as well as at WGN in Chicago. One of her favorite journalism memories is getting to interview Lee Crooks — the voice of the CTA.

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