Kent State Students Reach Plea on Fake ID Charges

Case highlights a growing trend of underage students buying driver's licenses from China

A settlement has been reached in the case against two former students accused of ordering 90 fake IDs from China.

Portage County Common Pleas court administrator Vicki Bennett said attorneys for Drew Patenaude, 21, and Antonino Bucca, 21, both faxed motions of continuance Thursday morning. The motions requested that a date be set for the defendants to plead gulity to lesser charges.

Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman agreed to reset the cases for the later plea.

Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci was unavailable for comment, and the details of the plea agreement are unknown at this time.

Bucca received news of the deal Wednesday afternoon and tweeted, "Just got some amazing news. Now I know how Casey Anthony felt. Happiest day of my life."

He and Patenaude were set to stand trial Oct. 12 for forgery charges, a fifth-degree felony, stemming from an arrest by Kent Police on March 31.

According to Kent Police, Border Protection agents intercepted a package intended for Bucca and Patenaude in February containing multiple counterfeit IDs from several states, which they intented to distribute to other students on Kent State’s campus. 

As a result, Kent State kicked them out of school in April and banned them from it's campus.The two were initialy charged with communications fraud, identity theft and forgery. 

U.S. Custom and Border Protection spokesman Brian Bell said there is a surge of fake IDs coming in from overseas. 

“Since January we have caught about 15,000 IDs," Bell said. "In the past we would see maybe 10 to 15 per year.”

The IDs allegedly purchased by Bucca and Patenaude were concealed inside an electronic device shipped from China. Bell said that's common too.

“They [the fake IDs] are very well concealed within electronics, tennis shoes, gift items, picture frames, books,” Bell said.

Bell said the majority of the licenses were headed to college students looking to drink underage, but they follow every ID because terrorists, human traffickers and immigrant smugglers are buying the same fakes to cover their tracks.

"Having a piece of identification that doesn’t represent who you are is a big deal," Bell said. "What if it was somebody who had harmful intent? A terrorist who wanted to have a drivers license in the state of Ohio could order one."

Bell said the companies that make these fakes are definitely being supported by college students. 

In July, officers in a Chicago suburb arrested 40 students between the ages of 17-20 for licenses that were hidden inside a game shipped from China. The shipment contained 1,700 fake IDs, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office.

Mike Beder owns in downtown Kent and said he's seen an increase in the quality of fake IDs been presented at his bar.

“They really are sophisticated,” Beder said. “In fact, (recently) our guys were positive that they had a fake. They showed it to an officer who couldn’t say without a doubt that it was.”

Beder is considering purchasing a scanner that would read the magnetic strips on the back of state IDs and determine whether they are fake. The encoding inside the magnetic strip is often incorrect or missing on fake driver’s licenses.

But Beder said that wouldn’t be the ideal solution. The machines are expensive and they wouldn't catch people using real IDs that don't belong to them. He said there would still be a need for bouncers.

Beder said his employees catch small details on fake IDs like incorrect fonts and color saturation. A few months ago he saw a rush of high-quality fake Pennsylvania licenses.

"They were really good, but the barcode on the back all had the same number," Beder said. "If I turn it over and see 3387, I know it's fake."

Kent State junior Holly McNulty said she knew a girl in her dorm that was concerned about the details on a fake ID she purchased for $150.

“It looked really legit though because it had a watermark and everything,” McNulty said.

 McNulty said the girl bought it through a friend who knew someone with a "connection," a story repeated by two other students, Kurt Becker and Amy Janos. The three said it’s common for a group of students to go in and purchase IDs together through one person.

Bennett said a date will be set Thursday afternoon for Bucca and Patenaude to plead gulity in three to four weeks. 

Bucca tweeted Wednesday that he couldn't wait for the media to, "post a story of what i ended up charged with."

Matt Fredmonsky October 06, 2011 at 05:42 PM
It is rather fascinating (and alarming) how much effort goes into these fake IDs that, like so many other things, are "made in China" and shipped over here.
Chris (Kit) Myers October 06, 2011 at 06:59 PM
"Happiest day of my life," says Bucca. Well, some of us would like his court date to be rather unhappy. He ain't a kid; he's TWENTY-ONE!!!
Kristin October 10, 2011 at 12:08 PM
Where is the editor for this piece? I had to stop reading after I reached the last error listed here: "...which they intented to distribute..." "...banned them from it's campus" "...he's seen an increase in the quality of fake IDs been presented at his bar."
JB October 10, 2011 at 02:45 PM
“They really are sophisticated,” Beder said. “In fact, (recently) our guys were positive that they had a fake. They showed it to an officer who couldn’t say without a doubt that it was.” - That was my ID. It was an out of state id and I stood outside of water street for an hour with the police. I am 22. I had to call my state police and they responded by saying the police in my town were incompetent and should learn how to do their job. Great job KSU police
K October 16, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Happened to both myself and my friend too,


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