While some college students consider fake IDs a rite of passage, the Maryland U.S. attorney underscored their illegality Thursday, announcing federal charges against a scholarship winner accused of making and selling phony driver's licenses from his College Parkdorm for a few months in 2009.

Theodore Stephen Michaels — a straight-A, triple major at the University of Marylandwho goes by "Teddy" — could face decades in prison if he's convicted of the 16 counts returned against him.

His attorney, Steven D. Kupferberg, said that Michaels, arrested Wednesday, will likely plead not guilty during his arraignment, which hasn't been scheduled. He said the charges seemed excessive.

"I'm frankly surprised [by the indictment]," Kupferberg said. "I don't see how this particular case is any more or less significant than what you find in College Park every day or on any college campus, for that matter."

The nine-page indictment claims that Michaels, now 20, made phony Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania licenses from October to November 2009, selling the identification documents for under $200 each and offering freebies to those who brought him at least five referrals. Most of his customers came through connections from his Montgomery Countyhigh school days, the indictment says.

As selling points, Michaels allegedly highlighted his ability to mimic individual state holograms and the machine-readable magnetic strips found on most licenses today — two features that were added to identification documents in the mid-1990s to thwart increasingly skilled counterfeiters.

The indictment asks Michaels to forfeit any illegal proceeds — estimated at $12,500 — along with the alleged document-making equipment: "to wit, [an] Eltron P500CM printer… and a HP Pavilion ZE111f laptop computer."

"This was a fairly sophisticated operation," said Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, who could not be reached Thursday.

Read the full story at The Baltimore Sun Web site.