Tuesday August 21, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A city bar has lost its liquor license for two weeks for allowing dozens of minors on a single night to enter the establishment using false identification.

The Pittsfield Licensing Board on Tuesday slapped the Back Nine Bar and Grill located at the GEAA on Crane Avenue with a 14-day liquor license suspension -- effective immediately.

The board informed the bar's manager, Brian Uliasz, he can appeal the suspension to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Bever age Control Commission.

The five-member panel's 3-1 decision came following its show cause hearing into last month's incident at the Back Nine, in which police seized 41 fake driver's licenses from nearly 70 young adults who were bussed to the bar for a reunion party.

Thomas Campoli was against the measure, while Albert "Butch" Pisani recused himself from the discussion and vote.

"I think it's outrageous a bus-load of kids show up and you wouldn't think that wasn't odd," board chairman Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. said.

"We carded everybody," replied Uliasz," But without electronic scanners, you can't tell the i-d's are fake."

"We didn't knowingly serve underage people," he added.

According to city police, several officers arrived at the Back Nine just before 11 p.m. on July 21 as part of a city-wide sweep by local authorities that night to crack down on crime and improve relations with residents. They immediately found several young men and women trying to exit the premises, one male with two bottles of beer in his hand. When asked to produce some identification, he showed police a New York State driver's license clearly stamped "Under 21".

In all, police claim more than 30 young adults were inside, with another 40 found outside the bar, or arriving on a bus from a local motel where they were staying.

"When you looked at them, you could tell most were, 17, 18 and 19 years old," Grady said.

Based on the confiscated false driver's licenses, the partiers hailed from 13 states, mostly from New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. They were former counselors at Camp Greylock in Becket, in the Berkshires for a reunion, according to Grady.

When contacted the following Monday, Camp Greylock officials told police they had nothing to do with the gathering, claiming it was solely organized by the camp alumni via social media.

Once police rounded up the young adults, police asked them to fork over their fake i-d's and they were bussed back to their motel.

Grady noted that no arrests were made or charges filed against the mostly underage drinkers.

A police report claims many of the young men and women "smelled of alcohol, were unsteady on their feet and were slurring when they spoke."

Uliasz said the partiers had already been drinking when they arrived, a claim partially supported by police, who say those who had just arrived on the bus threw beer cans and cups out the vehicle's windows.

Nevertheless, the board felt the Back Nine should be held accountable for the incident.

"I've never heard of anything like this and you accept no responsibility at all," said Robert Quattrochi.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.