Fake ID use goes bad
A UNC student pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice Thursday in Orange County District Court for using the identification of a Greensboro attorney when confronted by police after she was caught with cup of beer.
“This is an underage drinking case gone bad,” said District Court Judge Charles Anderson after hearing the facts of the case.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman told Anderson during the hearing that Kathryn Virginia Stark, 20, of Greensboro, was approached by a plainclothes officer after she carried a cup of beer from Pantana Bob’s on West Rosemary Street on Aug. 24, 2012.
When two Chapel Hill officers approached her, since she was in violation of the open container law, she dropped the cup and ran toward the Chancellor Square Apartments, and the officers pursued her, Nieman said.
One officer caught up with her and tried to take her into custody, but she struggled with him to try to get away, Nieman said.
Once they took her into custody, they asked for her identification, and she pulled out a driver’s license saying she was another woman. Stark recited the woman’s name, her birth date and told the officers that she was a recent graduate of the UNC Law School and that she was an attorney, which was true for the person whose ID she had, Nieman said.
The officers placed her under arrest and drove her to the Chapel Hill Police Department. She continued to maintain she was the woman, and allowed herself to be fingerprinted and booked under the other woman’s name, Nieman said.
The officers drove her to the Orange County Jail, and while checking her belongings, they found her true identification in her purse, yet she continued to insist she was the other woman and that her own ID was that of her sister’s.
Police found her home phone number and called her mother in Greensboro about what was going on, yet Stark still continued to insist she was the attorney even when officers told her it was time to come clean, Nieman said.
The officers, who were convinced she was not the other woman, had to go back to the magistrate’s office, get him to quash the warrant he just wrote and rewrite them for Stark, Nieman said.
The other woman, who is an attorney in a public position in Guilford County, appeared in court Thursday. Although the two women did not look exactly alike, they both were tall, slim blond women with straight hair.
In a letter to the court about the case, the attorney wrote that if the officers hadn’t discovered Starks’ true identity, it could have caused her numerous problems, since all the charges would have been in her name. If Stark skipped court, the court would have issued warrants for her arrest and she could have been arrested for failure to appear in court and have to try to prove she was not the woman who police arrested.
As it turned out, Stark apparently obtained the identification card from her roommate, who found the woman’s wallet in a taxi.
The two women lived just a few blocks from each other in Greensboro, and Stark could have easily returned the wallet to its rightful owner when she went home to visit her parents. Instead, she researched the woman’s background so she would be better prepared to assume the woman’s identity, Nieman said.
Stark’s attorney, Matthew Suczynski, argued that Stark always maintained that she did not remember what happened that night and must have blacked out when she was telling police she was the attorney.
Stark has since apologized and has maintained a high grade point average at UNC. She has also offered to speak to incoming freshmen about the dangers of underage drinking and using false identification to get into bars.
Anderson accepted the plea offer and found Stark guilty of obstruction of justice. He fined her $70 and ordered her to pay court costs of $180.
He also ordered her to meet with the Victim Impact Panel, which is a group in which victims of drunk drivers meet to tell their stories and how someone else’s illegal use of alcohol impacted their lives.
Stark is also scheduled to appear in front of the UNC Honor Court for possible discipline.