U.Md. student charged with making fake IDs

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Local,Maryland,Crime,Alex Pappas
A University of Maryland student has been indicted in federal court for allegedly making fake identification cards in his College Park dorm room and selling them to underage students.

Prosecutors said Theodore "Teddy" Steven Michaels, 20, of Potomac, made thousands of dollars by selling high-quality fake driver's licenses to his friends.

He was making between $100 and $170 for each license sold, according to the 16-count indictment handed down by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

The indictment also seeks $12,500, the amount prosecutors said was made through the scheme. Prosecutors said Michaels made the licenses in 2009.

A man who answered the phone at an address listed for the Michaels family in Potomac declined to comment. But Rockville attorney Steven D. Kupferberg, who represents Michaels, said his client plans to plead not guilty. Kupferberg said he couldn't elaborate on the specifics of the case.

"I can say he's a fine young man, comes from a fine family," Kupferberg said. "He's a straight-A student, has been since high school."

University of Maryland spokesman David Ottalini said Michaels is double majoring in accounting and finance with enough credits to make him a senior.

Prosecutors said Michaels, a graduate of Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, and a co-conspirator, who was paid a fee by Michaels for helping, sold fraudulent licenses from Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to individuals under the age of 21. The licenses can be used to obtain alcohol and enter bars illegally.

The indictment says Michaels told friends from high school that the licenses had holograms and magnetic strips that could be read by card readers. Michaels and the co-conspirator used an identification card printer and encoder used to create false holograms of state seals, the indictment said.

Michaels asked those who wanted licenses to provide photographs of themselves and the information they wanted on the card, prosecutors said. His business scheme included giving free licenses to anyone who referred five people to him, the documents state.

The court documents do not make it clear how he was caught.

Michaels is facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy and 15 years in prison for possessing document-making implements. He's also facing 15 years for each of the seven counts for the production and another 15 years for each of the seven counts of transfer of fraudulent identification documents.

apappas@washingtonexaminer.com

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