City police concluded their investigation into the counterfeit driver’s license case that started in the spring with a final arrest Tuesday.
A total of 14 high school students purchased illegal driver’s licenses from a website based in China. The fake IDs indicated the students were older than they actually were, so they could purchase alcoholic beverages.
Maclaine Matties, 18, of Blueberry Way in Saratoga Springs, was charged Tuesday with a felony count of criminal possession of a forged instrument.
She was arraigned before City Court Judge Jeffrey Wait and released to reappear in City Court in the future.
Lt. John Catone of the city Police Department said Matties’ arrest concludes the investigation into the counterfeit IDs that were purchased more than a year ago by a group of Saratoga Springs High School students from a website called “ID Chief.”
Assistant District Attorney James R. Davis said the previous cases involved fake IDs obtained through a “fake ID mill.” He noted that these students, who like Matties are all high school students, were charged with misdemeanors rather than felonies because they cooperated with the police.
The police chose to charge Matties with a felony, which is solely within their discretion, he said.
Karl Sleight, a lawyer representing Matties, said charging his client with a felony is a “gross overreaction” by city police.
“She’s a model student who has committed no crime,” he said.
Matties appeared voluntarily in City Court on Tuesday, Sleight said. He said he requested a hearing in the case, and this was scheduled for Dec. 6 in City Court.
All of the previous cases involving the high school students resulted, ultimately, in dismissals after the students did 50 hours of community service, attended a six-week alcohol risk and responsibility course at the Saratoga County Prevention Council and forfeited their driver’s license — their real one — for 90 days.
“The Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office wanted to make sure that the students had no criminal record and that the incident would not affect their future as long as they were cooperative with the Saratoga Springs Police Department,” Davis said in a prepared statement.
“The DA’s goal is to afford an educational opportunity through the criminal prosecution in order for these students to learn from their mistake and to prevent them from engaging in this conduct again as well as being mindful of what kind of information they give to websites over which they have no control,” he said.
Matties faces a license revocation by way of administrative hearing through the Department of Motor Vehicles and up to four years in a state correctional facility, Davis said.