A stack of fake IDs was presented to the liquor board by attorney Timothy Fitzgerald, representing Evanston First Liquors. Photo by Cassandra Clegg

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The City’s Liquor Commission met on March 22 to hear a complaint against Evanston First Liquors for selling alcohol to a minor who had showed a false I.D.
Owner Amit Amin and his lawyer, Timothy Fitzgerald, felt they had come prepared: They had a video tape of the transaction, which they said showed the person purchasing a six-pack of beer and using two forms of identification which appeared to be valid. Just outside the store, however, the young man was stopped by police, after which he produced an I.D. that showed a wholly different name and age than were on the one he had just used to purchase the six-pack.

As further proof of his client’s good-faith efforts at keeping alcohol out of the reach of minors, Mr. Fitzgerald brought a stack of I.D.s, which he said were fake and had been confiscated by Mr. Amin over the past five months.

“These we didn’t pull off the streets. These are students or individuals [who are] underage who attempted to purchase in our store,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to be shocked when the City’s liquor commissioner, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, said she was “appalled that you are here thinking that we are concerned with only one violation.”

“We’ve had 12 violations [issued against Evanston First Liquors] in 2012,” City Attorney Grant Farrar told the commission. There have been sales to minors and minors on the premises.”

Mr. Fitzgerald said he had received notice of only one violation and objected as Mr. Farrar read into the record other violations – including one from 2010, before Mr. Amin purchased the store.

Mr. Farrar said it was the burden of Mr. Fitzgerald and his client, “not the City’s burden” to know of the violations.

When the liquor commissioner learned from her assistant that information about the violations had not been provided to Mr. Fitzgerald or Mr. Amin, she said, “Give them all the information we have about the violations.”

The hearing was continued so that Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Amin could review the violations.

Since he purchased the store last August, Mr. Amin told the RoundTable, he has installed four new cameras and purchased $7,000 of equipment to detect fake I.D.s.

“[Mr. Amin] is interested in being an integral part of the community, and you don’t do that by breaking City ordinances,” Mr. Fitzgerald told the RoundTable.

The hearing was continued without a date certain.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...