Restaurants and bars are facing a new problem - fake IDs that are good enough to pass through scanners and be approved. The Chattanooga Beer Board became aware of this for the first time at the meeting Thursday morning.
Coyote Jacks, 1400 Cowart St., was cited to the board for multiple infractions of the beer code, one being serving beer to a minor. Chattanooga Police Officer John Collins told the board that acting upon many tips about constant overcrowding at the bar, he and Captain Chuck Hartung with the Chattanooga Fire Department did a bar check on the night of Feb.
5 and found violations in addition to overcrowding.
Officer Collins said red flags went up alerting him that customers who started exiting the building were underage. He stopped eight people to check their IDs and 50 percent, or four, were fake. When questioned, the people using them freely admitted that the IDs were fake, and told Officer Collins that many of the other people leaving the club also had used fake IDs to get in. These were very good fakes, said Officer Collins. The customers caught using them were charged with criminal impersonation and underage drinking. Doormen hired from Global Protective Services were in charge of checking the IDs and Curtis Green, owner of that company, told the board that batteries in the scanners usually used at the bar were dead that night so the IDs had been visually checked and appeared to be valid.
Officer Collins said that night he informed the general manager of Coyote Jacks, Randall Paulsen, about the hot spots for these sophisticated false IDs which have addresses from South Carolina, Mississippi and Kentucky, and have realistic details such as holograms that will scan as authentic. Since being made aware of this, Mr. Paulsen said he had confiscated more of them and brought four to the meeting. During the hearing, Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman downloaded an app and scanned those four. Three of them were accepted as valid and one showed a discrepancy with gender. “It’s possible that they couldn’t tell,” said Mr. Reisman.
Board member Trevor Atchley said it is unfair to punish the business when they are checking the IDs, because they have been scammed. He said the businesses did not know about the new fake IDs, and the beer board members just discovered it themselves. Calandra Smith with the Hamilton County Coalition, who also does training for beer sales, agreed and said that it is hard to hold businesses responsible because their intention was to not sell beer to a minor.
The other violations did merit a seven-day suspension of the Coyote Jacks beer license. The doormen “dropping the ball” led to the severe overcrowding that was witnessed. The legal capacity is 518. A clicker at the door registered 935. As the inspection went on, the officers were shown another clicker registering 303, which the manager claimed were people exiting. That still left over 100 people in excess of the legal limit. Additionally, a downstairs area was being used as a game room when it had only been approved by inspectors to use for a storage area due to ingress and egress issues. The beer permit was suspended from March 2 until March 9, and a notice of the violations will be sent to the Tennessee ABC board.
Kanku’s, 4408 Highway 58, also lost use of its beer license for selling beer to a 19-year-old during a compliance check made by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the Hamilton County Coalition. On the night of Jan. 27, a “helper” made the sale without asking to see an ID. Confusion during questioning, because the owner Ramila Chaudhari, was unable to understand the questions posed to her or answer them, eventually led to the cause of the violations. She said a helper, who also sweeps and cleans, was left in charge of the cash register when the manager leaves the store. “How did they get the license in the first place?” asked Board Member Ed Townson. It was highly recommended that the employees get training in beer sales and the license was suspended for 10 days beginning Feb. 23.
A fundraiser for the Normal Park Museum Magnet PTA, Fork & Gavel, will take place at Stratton hall, 3146 Broad St. on March 11 from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. This is the seventh year that the benefit has been held. This year money raised will be used for building a gym at the school.