Fugitive Couple Sentenced For Identity Theft
Tampa, FL - Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven today sentenced Michelle M. Lutz (Clearwater, 36) to two years in federal prison for aggravated identity theft. On August 20, 2013, Senior U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew sentenced her husband, Paul M. Lutz (Clearwater, 44), to two years and eight months in federal prison for misuse of a passport and aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents, Paul and Michelle Lutz were arrested in San Bernadino, California, for drug and weapon violations in October 2001. Shortly after their arrests, they fled California and assumed new identities. The Lutzs lived in Nevada for several years before moving to Clearwater, Florida, in 2008. While living in Clearwater, the couple had a son. Michelle Lutz worked as an exotic dancer, while Paul M. Lutz attended school, cared for the minor son, and coached a Clearwater Little League team.
In May 2012, Michelle M. Lutz, using an assumed identity, applied for a United States Passport in Clearwater. During the processing of her application, fraud detection managers determined that the information provided in the application was false. A follow up investigation revealed that Michelle and Paul Lutz had active warrants out of the State of California and were hiding out in Clearwater.
On March 6, 2013, a federal search warrant was executed at the Lutzs' Clearwater residence. Law enforcement seized blank birth certificates from more than seven different states, blank baptismal records, blank education school diplomas, a blank marriage license, social security cards and numbers in approximately fifteen different identities, stamps and seals for official documents, counterfeit currency, and an instruction book on how to establish a new identity.
This case was investigated by the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacie B. Harris.