9 indicted on suspicion of providing fake ID, alcohol before fatal prom night crash

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

9 indicted on suspicion of providing fake ID, alcohol before fatal prom night crash
The indictments are related to a crash that killed a Lyft driver and his passenger in April. A 17-year-old driver is suspected of causing the crash.

9 News
Author: Jennifer Campbell-Hicks
September 7, 2022

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — A grand jury indicted nine companies and individuals this week on suspicion of supplying fake IDs or providing alcohol to teenagers in relation to the case of a 17-year-old driver who’s charged in a Boulder crash that killed two people.

The crash happened April 9, on the night of Boulder High School’s prom. The 17-year-old girl, who was accused of being intoxicated, left a post-prom party to get more alcohol, drove on the wrong side of Highway 157 and crashed head-on with a Lyft driver’s vehicle, according to the indictment that was filed on Tuesday.

The driver, Ori Tsioni, and his customer, Gregoria Morales Ramirez, died in the crash. Another driver was injured when her vehicle crashed into Tsioni’s vehicle.

The 17-year-old girl who was driving, who has not been identified, has been charged with multiple counts of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, according to the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office.

Many witnesses refused to speak with investigators about the events that led to the crash. The District Attorney’s Office presented the case to the grand jury, which issued subpoenas for the witnesses to testify, the DA’s office said in a news release.

The nine indictments allege that two companies sold fake IDs to many high school students, a liquor store regularly sold alcohol to teenagers, a party bus driver allowed students to drink on the bus, and several adults provided alcohol to teenagers that night and on other occasions, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

According to the indictment:

The 17-year-old’s prom night started with a pre-prom party at the house of her friend and her friend’s mother, identified as Elisa Miller. Partygoers drank alcohol bought the day before at a Boulder liquor store, Willow Springs Wines & Spirits. Miller’s credit card was used to buy the alcohol.

At Miller’s house, a large group of teenagers boarded a party bus, rented from Denver 24/7 Limo, that took them to the prom. The driver, identified as Mike Johnson, allowed the teenagers to carry alcohol onto the bus and drink it.

When the bus arrived at the prom, staff noticed students who got off the bus were intoxicated, that the bus smelled like alcohol and there were “a lot of bottles on the floor and the sides of the bus.” Two students were so drunk they fell onto the pavement.

The 17-year-old drove herself and another person to the house of another friend, whose parents, identified as Charlene and Todd Hoffman, were hosting a pre-prom party where teenagers were drinking alcohol.

Since the fatal crash, “according to a witness, Charlene Hoffman has since expressed doubts about the appropriateness of permitting underage persons to drink at her house,” the indictment says.

The 17-year-old and other teens boarded another party bus, rented from Sunset Luxury Limousines, that took them to the prom. The teens “discreetly” brought alcohol with them and drank it on the bus.

About 90 minutes later, the Sunset Luxury Limousines bus picked up the teenagers and took them to the home of Pam and Mark Sunderland. The teenagers went to the basement and continued their drinking. The Sunderlands cooked frozen pizzas for the students, which they brought to the basement, and then didn’t return, the indictment says.

At some point, the 17-year-old told friends she was going to get more alcohol, picked up her vehicle at the Hoffman residence, and shortly afterward, got into the crash that killed Tsioni and Ramirez, the indictment says.

Miller, Johnson, Charlene Hoffman, Todd Hoffman, Pam Sunderland and Mark Sunderland were all indicted on charges of:

  • Providing alcohol to an underage person
  • Second-degree contributing to the delinquency of a minor

Also indicted were:

  • Two websites charged with forgery in the selling of fake identification cards to underage persons. The investigation into who owns and operates the websites, as well as their location, is ongoing, the District Attorney’s Office said.
  • Royal Mart, the parent company of Willow Springs Wines & Spirits, charged with providing alcohol to an underage person.

The 17-year-old driver was headed in the direction of this liquor store, about 2 miles from Boulder High School, when the crash occurred. Witnesses said the store stopped selling alcohol to underage persons after the fatal crash, the indictment says.

The Boulder Valley School District released a statement that said in part it has “taken steps, within its authority,” to address the issue of underage drinking and drug use.

“Typically at our high schools, the protocol is to pull aside students who smell like alcohol or appear to be impaired, contact parents, and establish a safe and appropriate way for the student to get home,” the statement says. “Students who are found to have engaged in serious misconduct are subject to school disciplinary action, including possible suspension. Often law enforcement is present at dances and large events and assist in managing students who appear to have been using alcohol or drugs.”

According to the indictment, staff at the prom approached the 24/7 Limo party bus when it arrived, but “there were so many students getting off the bus that the event staff could not identify or stop all of the students who had been drinking, even though they smelled like alcohol as they passed by.”

The indictment also says several students from the bus were taken to an area designated for intoxicated students, where alcohol was confiscated.