Office of the United States Attorney, Ann Birmingham Scheel
District of Arizona
January 6, 2012
CHANDLER MAN CHARGED WITH SUBMITTING OVER $275,000 IN FRAUDULENT CREDIT CARD CHARGES FROM LOCAL PIZZERIA AND DEPOSITING OVER $50,000 IN FAKE CHECKS
PHOENIX, Ariz. – A federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a 25-count indictment against Stephen Colter Dustin, 32, of Chandler, Ariz., for wire fraud, credit card fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
The indictment alleges that, during September and October 2010, Dustin used credit cards belonging to others to submit over $275,000 of fraudulent credit card charges from Jac’s Pizzeria, a restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz., that Dustin operated. The indictment further alleges that, in an attempt to make these charges appear legitimate, Dustin submitted fake invoices to the credit card companies suggesting that Jac’s had provided catering services at several large events. The indictment further alleges that Dustin obtained approximately $75,000 from the scheme before the credit card companies closed their accounts with Jac’s.
The indictment also alleges that, after the credit-card scheme came to a close, Dustin began to engage in bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Specifically, the indictment alleges that, during January and February 2011, Dustin obtained a $264 check from a former employer (which check represented the proceeds from Dustin’s 401K account), used the information appearing on that check to create two fake checks worth over $26,000 each, forged the signature of his former employer’s president on each of the fake checks, and attempted to deposit the fake checks in his bank account. The indictment alleges that Dustin obtained over $26,000 from this scheme. Dustin was arrested on these charges on January 5, 2012, and released pending trial.
A conviction for Bank Fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years, a $1 million fine, or both. A conviction for Wire Fraud and Credit Card Fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 and 15 years, respectively, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both. A conviction for Aggravated Identity Theft carries a maximum sentence of 2 years. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Teilborg will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the United States Secret Service. The prosecution is being handled by Dominic Lanza and Mark Kokanovich, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR-11-2459-PHX-JAT
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-001(Dustin)
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az