Reporting Mike Hellgren
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)– There are serious charges against a University of Maryland straight-A student. He now faces time in prison for making and selling fake IDs.
Mike Hellgren has more on the charges.
This was an honor student. He was a triple major scheduled to graduate early, and it’s rare to see federal charges being brought in a case like this.
Fake IDs are easy to make and easy to get. The feds are cracking down hard at the University of Maryland College Park, where straight-A student Theodore Michaels faces a 16-count indictment for making hundreds of them. It could send him to prison for decades.
Prosecutors claim Michaels would charge around $200 each and made more than $12,000, making Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia driver’s licenses. But fellow students say it goes beyond one case.
“I think it’s a pretty common thing, actually,” said a Maryland student.
“It’s easy to get IDs,” echoed another. “You can just ask one person, like Facebook them, and within a week or two, you’ll have an ID.”
University police say it’s not just about getting into bars.
“People can obtain identification that really belongs to someone else. And that can be used for other crimes, such as identity theft, or in the worst case, to promote terrorist activity,” said Captain Marc Limansky, University Police.
Past WJZ investigations have exposed fake ID rings before, such as one in Lexington Market in Baltimore, and you can get an ID for as little as $50 online.
“Pretty much almost everyone I know has fake IDs,” said a Maryland student. “That’s just how it works.”
Even the daughter of the former president did. A then teenaged Barbara Bush used a fake ID to get into bars; she used a Baltimore address under the name Barbara Pierce.
“There’s always someone out there trying to create the counterfeit product,” said Buel Young, MVA. “We have embedded security features that are difficult to replicate.”
But federal charges for small-time manufacturers are rare, which is why the attorney for the Maryland student now facing indictment says he’s surprised this has turned into a federal case. His attorney says his client is a spectacular kid with an unblemished record and faces a terrible accusation that will affect him for the rest of his life.
The student’s lawyer did not say whether the student plans to plead guilty or not guilty.
So far, the student has faced no disciplinary action from the school. His lawyer says he’s busy studying for his finals.