Pulsing club music quickly transitioned to the wailing of police sirens Friday night as local authorities shut down Darby O’Gill’s Food and Spirits in Hyde Park, NY, filled with underage patrons.
One hundred and fifteen minors were ticketed by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), with assistance from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, for possessing a fake identification card that night at a bar frequented by Marist College students, according to an SLA report.
Three bartenders were also arrested by the Hyde Park Sheriff’s Office for serving alcohol to minors and unlawfully dealing with a child. The owner of Darby O Gill’s was not arrested that evening, but as of Dec. 5, Darby O Gill’s liquor license has been suspended. According to a representative, the SLA intends to permanently suspend the license.
“It defies understanding that this licensee has displayed an unconscionable indifference to the law by placing his personal profits above the safety of our youth,” said Counsel to the Authority Christopher R. Riano.
Undisclosed SLA investigators entered the premises Friday evening around 9 p.m. after receiving complaints of underage drinking at the bar. At this time, they witnessed 26 direct sales being made to minors.
Beginning around 10 p.m. the SLA investigators witnessed cabs beginning to drop off patrons, who they observed to be from Marist. An hour later, the DMV and the Sheriff’s Office shut down the bar and began checking IDs.
The investigators obtained an additional 46 statements from minors who admitted to consuming alcohol and stated that nearly 90 percent of the bar’s 200 patrons were under the legal drinking age.
“This is an egregious violation,” said Bill Crowley of the State Liquor Authority. “This isn’t a minor or two that just slipped through the door.”
The State Liquor Authority charged Darby O’Gill’s with 77 violations on Dec. 4, including 72 counts for selling to a minor, failure to supervise, serving in an unlicensed outside area, and failure to maintain accurate books and records.
Darby O’Gills refused to comment.
A press release issued by SLA Wednesday afternoon alluded to the possibility of future consequences for any local establishment that does not comply with the legal drinking age.
“I want to commend the Members of the Authority for sending a clear message today that bar owners who knowingly serve alcohol to minors will immediately be shut down,” Riano said.
An atmosphere of fear and confusion clouded the bar, according to a male student who was present at the time of the bar raid. The student wishes to remain anonymous.
He said, “Around 11:20, all of a sudden all of the lights came on and the DJ stopped playing. And we were really confused, then we look up and there’s at least eight cops in the place.”
The student described police officers ordering patrons who were over 21 years of age to come to the front of the bar first. The remainder of the crowd was then organized into four sections and rigorously questioned by police.
By the time he was done being questioned, the student exited the bar around 3 a.m. and received a ride home from one of the numerous cabs waiting outside.
Minors were given traffic tickets with court appearance dates printed on them. According to the student, court appearances have already begun and will continue into next week, simultaneous to the college’s final examination period.
“Everyone has a court date and now a lot of people are getting scared because they don’t know if it could be more,” said the student. “I don’t know if it’s supposed to be an easy fine, I don’t know anymore. It’s really up in the air so we don’t know what to do.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s very stressful. It’s not even stressful, it’s more like nerve wracking.”
Following the off-campus raid, panic ensued on campus Monday evening as police cars were spotted in freshman residence areas. However, this was the result of a reported robbery in a freshman residence hall, according to Resident Assistant Evan Mastriano.
The Office of Safety and Security at Marist declined to comment, stating the incident had nothing to do with the college.