Four Individuals Sentenced For Their Roles In Large, Multi-state Identity Theft Ring
MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court in St. Paul, four individuals were sentenced for their roles in a large, multi-state, identity theft ring. United States District Judge Paul A. Magnuson sentenced Jerome Davis, Jr., Jemall Ronta Williams, Tierra Samantha Catrina House, and Shanell Collette Brewer each on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Davis, age 44, no known address, was sentenced to 50 months of imprisonment, Williams, age 38, no known address, was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment, House, age 23, of St. Paul, was sentenced to 32 months of imprisonment, and Brewer, age 34, of Minneapolis, was sentenced to 27 months of imprisonment.
These individuals, along with more than 100 others, were involved in a conspiracy, from 2006 through December of 2011, to defraud banks, bank customers, and businesses. The co-conspirators used victim information to create counterfeit checks and false identification documents to conduct fraudulent transactions at retail establishments, where expensive merchandise was purchased and returned for cash. At banks, the conspirators posed as customers and withdrew money from victims’ bank accounts. The members of the conspiracy conducted these fraudulent transactions in Minnesota and at least 13 other states. Victim information was obtained by members of the conspiracy through multiple sources, including from individuals who stole information from their places of employment, from people employed at area banks, from those who stole information from mail, during vehicle break-ins, and through business burglaries, among other sources.
In his plea agreement, Davis admitted that from 2010 through 2011, he, too, was part of the conspiracy. For his part, Davis recruited individuals to conduct fraudulent transactions at financial institutions and retail establishments. He provided those individuals with false identification documents and counterfeit checks that he had received from other members of the conspiracy. Davis also drove individuals to retail stores, where the co-conspirators conducted fraudulent transactions in excess of $140,000.
In his plea agreement, Williams admitted that he joined the conspiracy in 2009, and from that time forward, he obtained victim information from a co-conspirator who worked at Wells Fargo. Williams also admitted providing that information to others, who then used it to create false and fictitious identification documents and counterfeit checks. In addition, Williams admitted recruiting individuals to pass those counterfeit checks at banks and retail establishments. Williams was responsible for approximately $40,000 in fraudulent transactions.
In her plea agreement, House admitted that between July and November 2008, while employed as a bank teller at the St. Paul Postal Employees Credit Union (“PCU”), she provided co-conspirators with customer information, including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, account numbers, and account information. The co-conspirators used that information to create false identification documents, which were then used by other co-conspirators to conduct fraudulent transactions using counterfeit checks. House admitted responsibility for approximately $22,000 in fraudulent transactions involving money stolen from the accounts of others.
In her plea agreement, Brewer admitted that in 2009, while employed at Sonus, a Plymouth-based business, she provided co-conspirators with customer information, including names, addresses, and bank account numbers. The co-conspirators used that information to create counterfeit checks and false identification documents, which were then used by other co-conspirators to conduct fraudulent transactions at various businesses. Brewer admitted responsibility for at least $18,000 in attempted fraudulent transactions and purchases through the use of counterfeit checks.
To date, 28 other members of the conspiracy have been sentenced. The remaining co-conspirator, Gordon Lamarr Moore, awaits sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled. Moore was convicted in April 2013, following a jury trial. During the trial, Moore fled from the jurisdiction. On July 8, 2013, he was arrested in at a hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Moore then attempted to flee again but was apprehended without incident.
These prosecutions resulted from an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the IRS-Criminal Investigations. The defendants were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen B. Schommer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle E. Jones.
The Financial Crimes Task Force was established pursuant to state law and is comprised of local, state, and federal law enforcement investigators dedicated to combating the growing problem of cross-jurisdictional financial crimes. The task force, overseen by an advisory board also created under state law, serves the entire District of Minnesota, presenting its cases to county or federal prosecutors, as appropriate.
The task force and the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office want to remind people to protect themselves from identity theft. For more information, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov/protect-identity.html.
For more information on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/IdentityTheft.aspx . The IRS-Criminal Investigations also urges citizens to review the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, which can be found at http://www.irs.gov.
For tips on how to prevent mail theft, visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/MailTheft.aspx.