Friday, March 01, 2002

11 students charged in fake ID case

Cards made on home computers, say police

By Janice Morse, The Cincinnati Enquirer
and Sue Kiesewetter, Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — Eleven Edgewood High School students face charges in connection with fake identification cards, the Butler County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.

[photo] With confiscated fake IDs in the foreground, Lt. G. Mike Craft of the Butler County Sheriff's Office speaks Thursday about the investigation into the cards.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        Forgery charges were being filed against 10 students who made the cards or bought them for $20 to $50 apiece, authorities said. They said an 11th student was being charged with complicity to forgery and obstructing official business for assisting with making a fake ID and then lying to investigators.

        While nine of the students are ages 15-17, two of the students are adults: Brandon L. Cooper, 19, of Hamilton and Aaron D. Crout, 18, of Trenton. Forgery charges against them were filed Thursday in Hamilton Municipal Court.

        The other students' names are being withheld because they are juveniles; their cases will be handled through the county's Juvenile Court.

        The forgery charge is a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to 12 months incarceration and a $2,500 fine.

        Three different groups used home computers to produce IDs bearing the students' photos and their real names, but with false birth dates that would have made them 21, authorities said.

        The investigation began Wednesday, when a student told school officials that another student had brought alcohol to school; around the same time, a teacher found an apparently fake ID card that had been either dropped or misplaced. Then two teens were found with alcohol on the school premises.

        A 16-year-old boy had sipped vodka from a Mountain Dew can; a bottle of vodka was found in another student's vehicle, authorities said. Officials think the students used their fake IDs to buy the alcohol.

        “We expanded our investigation and found out they made the IDs from scratch on home computers. It just took them a few hours,” said Tom York, superintendent of the Edgewood City Schools.

        Six of the 11 students received three- to five-day suspensions for having or making false IDs. The two caught with alcohol were suspended 10 days and recommended for expulsion; they also are expected to be charged with misdemeanors for underage alcohol possession.

        Lt. Craft urged parents to more closely monitor their children's computer activities. He also cautioned businesses that sell liquor to scrutinize ID cards.

        Detective Melina Smith pointed out shortcomings of the fake IDs, most noticeably the lack of holograms.

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