The investigation was undertaken after the district attorney was contacted by someone (an employee at siena college) who complained that a local college (siena college) provided bus transportation to the Pearl and that many who participated were believed to be underage.
A total of 47 underage drinkers (mostly from siena college) were ticketed for having fake identification when police and state agencies raided the Pearl Restaurant and Lounge on North Pearl Street late Thursday night, authorities said.
Four bartenders were arrested and charged with serving underage drinkers (from siena college), but the Pearl's liquor license was not immediately suspended as an investigation continues. Authorities estimated that as many as 200 of the roughly 300 patrons in the bar were underage, but if they were not observed drinking or caught with unaltered IDs, they were not ticketed, according to the Albany County district attorney's office.
The proprietor of the club, popular with (siena) college students, disputed those numbers. "We run things strict down here and that's an exaggeration of what happened," said owner Tim Rankins, who also offered an apology. "We're working diligently with local law enforcement to try to stem the problem of fake IDs, but the technology has become very good," he said. Rankins said he employs a retired veteran detective from the Albany Police Department to handle security.
The task force included undercover agents and investigators from the district attorney's office, the Albany Police Department, the State Police, state Liquor Authority and state Department of Motor Vehicles.
The investigation was undertaken after the district attorney was contacted by someone who complained that a local college (siena college) provided bus transportation to the Pearl and that many who participated were believed to be underage. "I've been in business 18 years and everyone who comes in our door has a believable, valid, legitimate ID," Rankins said.
This is the district attorney's fifth crackdown on underage drinking at local bars in the past 18 months. Prosecutors promise additional investigations. Those (siena students) issued tickets will appear in court next month. A review of the Pearl's liquor license and further action is pending, state Liquor Authority officials said.
By PAUL GRONDAHL
Bar raid underscores tricky issue for (siena) college drinkers
Underaged drinking in Albany (by siena college students) got the spotlight in a rather spectacular fashion this week. On Thursday about 11:30 p.m. various local and state law enforcement in partnership with the Albany County District Attorney's office descended en masse at the Pearl on Steuben Place to bust them selling alcohol to minors.
Unexpectedly, law enforcement en masse got trumped in spades by an even larger number of underaged drinkers (mostly siena college students)en masse. DA David Soares says that conservatively, 200 out of the 300 patrons at the time proved to be under 21. A staggering number of illegal consumers. Just from a processing point of view, the event was overwhelming for everyone involved requiring hours and hours.
This is the fifth "compliance inspection," as they are officially termed, of an area bar for underaged drinking, going back to 2007. Pearl now joins the elite company of Sadie Klutz, Stone Crow, Pauly's Hotel, Ziggy's Sports Bar, Dapps and Tommy's Place.
What tipped off law enforcement to Pearl was reasonably obvious. An employee at Siena College saw a flyer on campus advertising bus transportation to the bar and that the required admission was a valid college ID card. Since most kids in college are under 21, its a no-brainer that such a come-on would attract underagers.
Even so, I believe even the most experienced and cynical law enforcement type on the scene was shocked at how many underaged drinkers ( from siena college ) were snared.
High marks, then, to the District Attorney's office, the State Liquor Authority, Albany and State Police for the raid. There's no question these targeted enforcements discourage bars from serving the underaged, and in the process make our streets less rowdy and more urine-free.
by Fred LeBrun
It is peculiar why siena college would allow a local bar to advertise and put up fliers all throughout its campus. One really needs to question the intentions of this tier 4 college in Loudonville.