Leader Pleads Guilty in Bank Fraud Scheme
Baltimore, Maryland - Lemoyne Veney, age 44, of Clarksville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Robert Jasinski of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office; and Harford County Sheriff L. Jesse Bane. According to his plea agreement, from November 2007, through February 2011, Veney conspired with Theresa Smithrick, Kevin Pittman, and others in a scheme to use stolen personal identifying information (PII) to fraudulently obtain money from financial institutions. Specifically, in 2010 Veney met Smithrick, who was employed as a clerk at the Baltimore City District Court. Veney asked Smithrich to help him to gather personal identifying information, which she agreed to do. On approximately eight occasions, Veney gave Smithrick a sheet with eight to 10 names and accompanying PII, with some blank PII fields missing, such as driver’s license number, date of birth, or middle name. Smithrick completed the missing fields by accessing a secure Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration database and faxed the completed sheets to another co-conspirator, as directed by Veney. The co-conspirator who received the completed sheets bartered with Veney and agreed to provide driver’s licenses to Veney in exchange for the PII. In turn, Veney and other co-conspirators used the stolen PII, as well as the counterfeit driver’s licenses, to perpetuate the scheme.
Veney also created false businesses and supporting business documents, which he shared with his co-conspirators, including Kevin Pittman, so that he and his co-conspirators might incorporate some of the fraudulent businesses with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (“MDAT”) and other states’ departments of state. Veney and a co-conspirator would either sell the business information to others, or keep the information and attempt to establish related business checking accounts.
For example, Veney provided Pittman with fake identification, counterfeit supporting business documents, and counterfeit checks that Veney made in his home, which contained the stolen PII of unwitting victims but the pictures of Veney, Pittman and other conspirators. Pittman then used the counterfeit documents and compromised identities provided by Veney to incorporate fraudulent businesses. Veney also established matching business checking accounts for those fraudulent businesses for use in the scheme. Veney drove Pittman to various financial institutions in Frederick, Columbia and other locations in Maryland, where Pittman used the fake documents to open business and personal bank accounts. Pittman deposited the counterfeit business checks into these fraudulently opened bank accounts, then withdrew the funds before the checks could be identified as fraudulent. Pittman was paid a commission for each transaction. Veney also drove Pittman to supermarkets, where they cashed counterfeit checks, or purchased gift cards and other merchandise, with counterfeit checks drawn on real persons’ accounts, using the fraudulent identification documents provided by Veney as proof of identity.
As a result of the scheme, more than 50 victims lost a total of at least $70,000.
Veney faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the bank fraud conspiracy and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett scheduled sentencing for May 22, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
Theresa Smithrick age 47, of Baltimore, and Kevin Pittman, now using the name “Breona Pittman,” age 33, of Chesapeake, Virginia, both previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme and are scheduled to be sentenced on April 29, 2013 and May 1, 2013, respectively.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Secret Service and Harford County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Crooks, who is prosecuting the case.