St. Paul Woman Pleads Guilty To Role In Large, Multi-state Identity Theft Ring
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a 43-year-old St. Paul woman pleaded guilty to stealing personal information from her place of employment and providing it to her co-conspirators who then used the information to create counterfeit checks and fake IDs. Robin Dawn Finger specifically pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Finger, who was indicted on January 19, 2012, entered her plea before United States District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson.
Finger was part of a large-scale identity theft ring responsible for the theft of approximately $2 million from financial institutions and retail businesses in no fewer than 14 states. In her plea agreement, Finger admitted that from August through November of 2010, she was employed at the Minnesota Board of Psychology as a receptionist. As part of her duties, Finger had access to individuals’ personal information, including names, addresses, dates of birth and bank account information. Finger admitted to taking that information and providing it to another member of the conspiracy. The co-conspirators then used the information to create counterfeit checks and fraudulent identification documents.
The counterfeit checks were passed at various retail stores to purchase expensive merchandise that was subsequently returned to the stores for cash. The counterfeit checks were also passed at various banks where co-conspirators deposited the checks into the accounts of unsuspecting victims and then withdrew money from those same accounts. Finger admitted to being responsible for approximately $358,700 in proceeds being fraudulently withdrawn or attempted to be withdrawn from victims’ bank accounts.
Finger is the latest individual to plead guilty and accept responsibility for her role in this multi-state identity theft ring. Fourteen of her co-conspirators have already entered guilty pleas: Yesterday, Russell Raymond Royals pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. On June 6, 2012, Brianna Marie Blegen pleaded guilty to the same two counts. On May 30, 2012, Kevin Terrell Martin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. On September 29, 2011, Lee Vang pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft. On July 20, 2011, Brianna Marie Darwin pleaded guilty to the same two counts. Melissa Jean Beaman, Majorie Marie Neely, Francis Emily Jones, Christeena Janell Barker, Jamie Hubert Branson, Darryl Alan Bryant, Jacqueline Cleveland, and Ginger Loucina Halliburton pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Patricia Grace Pnewski pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Ten co-conspirators have pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from bank fraud and aggravated identity theft to money laundering and await trial. Their trial is currently scheduled for August 20, 2012.
For her crimes, Finger faces a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and a mandatory minimum consecutive penalty of two years in prison for identity theft. Judge Magnuson will determine her sentence at a future hearing, not yet scheduled.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen B. Schommer.
The Financial Crimes Task Force was established pursuant to state law and is comprised of local, state, and federal law enforcement investigators, who are dedicated to combating the growing problem of cross-jurisdictional financial crimes. The task force, which is 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.
The IRS-Criminal Investigation Division also urges citizens to review the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, which can be found at http://www.irs.gov.