On April 7, the city sued to shut down Chinatown stalwart 169 Bar for two incidents last year when underage auxiliary NYPD officers were allowed to enter the bar and purchase beer. Today, the owner of 169 Bar shot back that the lawsuit should be thrown out because the investigation was illegal, since the underage auxiliary officers used fake IDs to enter the bar, he claims.

The court filing doesn’t say whether or not the auxiliary officers used fake IDs, but affidavits signed by observing officers say that a bouncer checked the minors’ IDs at the door and allowed them to enter (169 Bar does not allow entry to anyone under 21). The bartender didn’t check IDs.

169 Bar owner Charles Hanson, via his lawyer, told Bowery Boogie:

“I want to it [sic] to be clear that the only allegation being made is that, according to the NYPD, an underage auxiliary police officer working as an agent of the NYPD used an ID to get past the doorman of the bar and allegedly purchase alcoholic beverages on two occasions, November 19th and November 20th.

The suit by the city does not allege any other incidences of underage consumption or purchase of alcohol. After examining a multitude of evidence pertaining to these allegations, it is my firm belief that the ID used by the NYPD auxiliary officer was a fake ID thus making the alleged police operation unlawful. We believe the court proceedings will show without any doubt that 169 Bar has, and will continue to, operate lawfully and with the best interests of the public and community in mind.”

ANIMAL asked New York defense attorney Gregg Pinto if Hanson is right, and the NYPD acted illegally by sending minors with fake IDs into the bar. He said that he believes that the investigation is legal. “Police officers are immune from criminal liability if they are acting in the scope of their duties,” he wrote. “For example, an undercover police officer who buys drugs from a dealer is not at risk of being arrested for drug possession once he makes his purchase.”

(Photo: Karla Murray)