Last Tuesday, Investigator Jonathan Reid of the New York County District Attorney’s Office intercepted a package in Lerner containing 42 false identification cards.
The recipient, Anthony Johnson, CC ’13, was arrested and now faces legal action.
The package shipped from Id Chief, a company that sells novelty IDs and operates out of China. Johnson ordered the batch of IDs at a discount price for the high quantity, and planned to distribute them to a group of friends who had gone in with him on the order. According to the Criminal Court complaint filed at the time of his arraignment last Wednesday, Johnson said that he and his friends paid $65 for each ID, and he charged his friends an additional $2 each.
“It was him and like 20 other guys,” said Allegra Roberts, CC ’13 and an acquaintance of Johnson. “The website apparently gives you two copies of each ID.”
According to the complaint Johnson has been charged with 42 counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree.
Johnson, a member of the varsity football team, has been suspended from Columbia until after his court date in June.
The maximum punishment for possessing a fake ID in the state of New York is a felony charge punishable by up to seven years in prison.
According to the complaint, Johnson stated at the time of his arraignment, “I ordered the IDs online because there’s a lot of places around school where you need to be 21.”
A University spokesman said the University cannot comment on legal matters. A spokesperson for the Office of Student Affairs declined to comment on impending judicial or legal action for the students who also ordered IDs with Johnson.
While Johnson may not have been the first Columbia student to order a fake ID from this online company, he was the first one caught.
Roberts confirms that this instance was not unique. “It’s something that other football and soccer players and lots of other people have done,” she said, “and it hasn’t been a problem. He was just the one that they found out about.”
Johnson is currently at home with his family in Philadelphia, awaiting his court date.