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A Dunster House sophomore admitted in court Tuesday that he manufactured and sold fake driver's licenses to undergraduates at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as members of two Boston fraternities.
Appearing in Cambridge District Court, Andrew S. Kuan '92 said there were sufficient facts to convict him on the charge of falsifying motor vehicle documents.
Judge Arthur Sherman '50 ordered Kuan to pay a total of $1050 in court costs and fees and to perform 100 hours of community service. Sherman said the case would be dismissed in December if Kuan complied with the probation conditions.
Assistant District Attorney Paul McLaughlin said that Kuan made the false Massachusetts licenses between April and June of last year.
McLaughlin said Kuan initially produced the licenses only for himself and his friends, but later decided to sell them to others "as compensation for time and materials" used in making them.
Kuan sold the IDs to students at the Delta Tau Delta and Phi Kappa Theta fraternities on Commonwealth Ave. in Boston and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at MIT, McLaughlin said. He added that Kuan also distributed about 10 licenses on the Harvard campus and 10 in his hometown. Kuan charged $30 for each license, McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said that Kuan made the ID's by taking photographs of the students at the fraternities and returning to his dormitory room to laminate the licenses.
"I was very careless about the entire thing from the beginning and kind of treated it like a game," Kuan said in an interview yesterday. "Making fake IDs is a felony and when you use one you're toying with your future and you're toying with the future of the person who made it."
MIT senior Jack Loh was charged as an accessory before the fact for allegedly setting up Kuan's visit to the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Sherman dismissed the accessory charge against Loh, but assessed him $150 in court costs and fees.
If found guilty of the forgery charge, Kuan and Loh could have been sentenced to a maximum of five years in state prison.
Under the plea agreement, Kuan will be considered guilty and automatically sentenced to a 90-day jail term if he violates any state or federal law during the rest of the year.
According to McLaughlin, MIT police learned of the operation on November 22, when a person tried to use one of the forged licenses to get into a campus bar. During the subsequent investigation, Kuan and Loh "were very forthcoming" with police about their roles in the scheme, McLaughlin said.
Harvard police were present at Tuesday's hearing but said they played no role in the investigation of the ID operation. Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said last night that he was unaware of the case.
In August, a state law went into effect making it easier for Registry of Motor Vehicles inspectors to punish those caught making or using fake licenses, according to spokesperson Kathi Connelly. That law allows the registry to suspend the licenses of violators for up to six months, she said.
Last fall, retailers and state officials announced a public service campaign stressing the potential consequences of using a fake ID to buy liquor. "The integrity of Registry documents is a serious matter, especially where a license is accepted as a universal means of identification," Connelly said.
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