Possible fines on the table for Cheers and underage drinkers after bust

NOW: Possible fines on the table for Cheers and underage drinkers after bust

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- Possible fines are on the table for Cheers Bar and Grill after a major bust caught more than 70 underage drinkers plus 50 fake IDs in the bar last Thursday.

In a meeting Thursday evening, one week after the bust, leaders in Roseland said it’s too soon to push for penalties. 

However, the city attorney believes it could potentially involve criminal action against the patrons caught last week, or even Cheers.  

“They’ve had violations in the past that the previous council has let slide, and things have gotten worse,” says Mike Schalk, future Roseland councilman.

Schalk says keeping Cheers accountable will be a top priority when he takes office, but the Roseland town council says it will wait until excise police complete their investigation before fines are discussed. 

“Since there’s an open investigation with potential criminal ramifications, at this point we would not be disclosing anything else,” said Pete Agostino, city attorney, during the meeting.

Doug Michael, a co-owner of Cheers, says their scanners were not properly flagging the 50-plus fake IDs that were confiscated.

Before that, he says, the bar has always been compliant with excise. 

“Excise has been inside Cheers when the students have been coming in as we’re scanning the IDs, and they have never said that we are doing anything incorrect,” says Michael.

To stop underage drinkers, Michael says Cheers has invested in a new scanner with routine software updates.

In a letter to the town council, Michael said it should catch even the most sophisticated fake IDs, with the manufacturer claiming a 98% success rate.  

“We are working and doing everything we can to make sure those illegal drinkers don’t have access to our bar and hopefully any other bars in the area as well,” Michael assures.

Roseland Police, as well as soon-to-be city leaders, say they will be keeping a close eye.

“We will be monitoring Cheers because we plan on working really close with our police department,” Schalk says.

Michael says the new scanner should be installed as soon as next week.

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