News and Press Releases

FORT PIERCE MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO BANK FRAUD AND CREDIT CARD CONSPIRACY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, and Henry Gutierrez, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, announced that defendants Christopher James Wortham and William Frank Simmons, Jr., both residents of Fort Pierce, pleaded guilty on Friday, March 19, 2010, in United States District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.

During the plea hearing, Wortham and Simmons admitted to stealing personal identification information and selling it to co-defendant Tychella Robinson. Tychella Robinson was sentenced on March 1, 2010 by Judge Moore to 99 months in prison for her part in the conspiracy. Another coconspirator, Patrice Johnson, was sentenced that same day by Judge Moore to 57 months in prison.

Sentencing for Wortham and Simmons has been scheduled for June 7, 2010, before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, in Fort Pierce. At sentencing, the defendants face a possible maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, on July 6, 2009, Port St. Lucie police arrested Simmons for prowling and loitering. After his arrest, Simmons admitted to acting as lookout for Christopher James Wortham, who had been burglarizing cars and buildings to obtain personal identity information. Based on this information, police obtained a search warrant for Wortham’s home and car, and discovered 12 debit/credit cards and two social security cards in different names.

According to statements made in court, Robinson paid Wortham a finder’s fee for each stolen identification he brought to her. Robinson used the stolen identity to obtain payday loans and open fraudulent credit card accounts. In addition, Robinson sometimes gave Wortham or Simmons some of the newly opened fraudulent credit cards as payment for the stolen biographical information they gave her.

To execute the scheme, Robinson would have the credit cards mailed to different addresses in Fort Pierce and throughout St. Lucie County, where Wortham and Simmons would then pick them up. Robinson would call Wortham and instruct him to text message to her the information from the credit cards. She would then use that information to charge against the accounts, without having the physical card.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Port St. Lucie Police Department, Fort Pierce Police Department, and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office for their work on these cases. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore M. Cooperstein.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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