Oldtown Woman Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and Aggravated ID Theft
COEUR D'ALENE – Michelle Ann Mason, 27, of Oldtown, Idaho, pleaded guilty yesterday in United States District Court in Coeur d'Alene to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.
According to the plea agreement, Mason admitted that between August and June 2010, she was the leader and organizer of six or more people who stole mail in and near Oldtown, Idaho. Mason directed her co-conspirators to open bank accounts in order to obtain cash from various banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, JPMorgan Chase N.A., and Spokane Teacher's Credit Union. Mason admitted that she took over the bank accounts that her co-conspirators opened, deposited counterfeit, altered, and/or forged checks that were stolen from the mail, into the compromised accounts, and then withdrew cash from the accounts using the ATMs. According to the plea agreement, Mason used the compromised bank account checks and ATM cards to purchase merchandise and pay bills. Mason's victims included banks, merchants, and the victims of the mail theft. Mason agreed to pay the victims $37,790.39 in restitution.
Mason also pleaded guilty to count eight of the indictment charging her with aggravated identity theft. According to the plea agreement, on March 20, 2011, Mason used the identity and signature of another individual, without lawful authority, when she deposited a $6,600 counterfeit check drawn against this individual's account and deposited the money into another person's checking account.
The charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, as charged in count one of the indictment, is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $1 million, and a term of supervised release of not more than five years. The charge of aggravated identity theft is punishable by a term of imprisonment of two years to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed, a term of supervised release of not more than one year, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Mason is scheduled to be sentenced on June 18, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Coeur d'Alene.
Co-defendant Charles Earl Baker is set for trial on March 27.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office in Washington, Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, Bonner County Sheriff's Office, and U.S. Secret Service.
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