Fake IDs Land Pittsfield Bar in Busload of Trouble

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city's Licensing Board severely chastised a local tavern Monday after an account by Pittsfield Police of masses of underage drinkers found there on July 21.

According to Lt. Michael Grady, Pittsfield Police corralled busloads of youths, numbering as many as 70, who may have been served at the Back Nine Bar & Grill on Crane Avenue that night, most of whom appear to have entered the bar using false IDs. The discovery of the under-21 patrons at the GEAA club came during an areawide sweep involving multiple departments known as Operation One Team One Mission.

Grady told the Licensing Board that officers making a stop at the bar encountered a number of visibly underaged patrons. Upon investigation, they found numerous youths who had been transported by a tour bus chartered as part of a reunion for alumni of Camp Greylock.

"Anyone could see they were underage," said Grady of some of the individuals police ejected from the establishment. Grady said at least 10 to 15 of the youths were spotted inside the bar, with the others being detained outside.

Back Nine manager Brian Uliasz said the bar is not to blame for their presence, claiming the alleged offenders entered the bar using convincing fake IDs.

"They did not get into my bar without an ID that said they were 21," Uliasz told the board, adding that fake IDs used that night duped two TIPs-certified people he had working the door.

Grady said 41 forged IDs were confiscated, many of them fake New York licenses similar to the minors' actual IDs.

"If you look at these IDs, they have holograms on them," said Uliasz, "A police officer came up to me and said 'If you don't have a scanner, there's no way you can tell those were fake.'"

"You're in a business where you have to take extraordinary measures — extraordinary measures," countered Chairman Carmen Massimiano, who noted that the bar has been before the board on two prior occasions, though not for serving minors. "No extraordinary measures have been taken."

"We're talking about two or three busloads of people, not just two or three that slipped under the radar," said board member Dana Doyle.

The board voted 3-1 to enact a 14-day suspension for the Back Nine Bar & Grill. Thomas Campoli voted in opposition, instead favoring a five- or seven-day imposed suspension with an additional suspension period left un-imposed, which could be invoked immediately if bar had another incident in the next year.

Albert Pisani, whose eligibility to serve on the board was recently brought into question over his association with the GEAA, where Back Nine is located, recused himself from the hearing.

By law, the bar can appeal to the state's Alcohol Beverages Control Commission; Uliasz told iBerkshires he did not know yet whether he would file an appeal.

Tags: license board,   license suspension,   underage drinking,   

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Pittsfield Continues Tax Classification Hearing Over Free Cash

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Mayor Linda Tyer says she wants to focus on building reserves. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday continued the tax classification hearing after clashing with the mayor over how much free cash should be used to offset the tax rate.
At the end of a nearly three-hour meeting, councilors and Mayor Linda Tyer were at a stalemate with the majority of the council unsatisfied with Tyer's $750,000 compromise.
"We are taking this out of the pockets of our taxpayers and putting it into the city coffers," Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers said. "I know that's how it works but at this moment we can afford to give some of that savings back."
The original proposal was a residential tax rate of $19.99 per $1,000 valuation and a commercial rate of $39.96 per $1,000 valuation, which holds the residential rate to a 57 cent increase and the commercial rate to a 2 cent increase.
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