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Five people sentenced on federal fraud charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2012

St. Louis, MO - One of the leaders of a group of people involved in the theft of credit cards from St. Louis and Southern Illinois area vehicles was sentenced this morning on fraud charges. Two of the defendants are from the St. Louis area. The identities of 44 individuals were used during the fraudulent scheme, and nine financial institutions experienced losses. The financial institutions' actual losses of $57,982 resulted through the bank fraud and credit card schemes. The participants in the conspiracy attempted to obtain an additional $35,555 in fraudulent proceeds and merchandise. The individuals whose vehicles had been broken into reported losses related to stolen items and vehicle repairs reported losses exceeding $50,000.

Between May 3, 2011 and August 11, 2011, James Whitiker was in a halfway house program serving the remainder of a federal sentence for fraud. Despite his custodial status, Whitiker recruited Yasmin Lesane to participate in a fraudulent scheme in the St. Louis Metropolitan area and the Southern District of Illinois. Whitiker, Lesane and others would break into cars using a method referred to as "car clouting," in order to steal personal checks, identification documents and credit cards. They used the stolen credit cards to purchase prepaid gift cards at Walgreens and CVS stores. The second phase of the scheme entailed passing the stolen checks at federally insured financial institutions using the stolen credit/debit cards and identification documents.

JAMES WHITIKER, Sunrise, GA, was sentenced today to 153 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $115,563 by United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton.

The following co-defendants were sentenced in March:

  • Yasmine Lesane, GA, -- 33 months prison, $115,563 restitution
  • Christina Rossi, FL -- 55 months prison, $90,712 restitution
  • Rebecca Allen, Woodson Terrace, MO -- 21 months prison, $45,543 restitution
  • Kimberly Hemman, Ballwin, MO -- 6 months prison, $45,543 restitution

The remaining defendant, Earl Maurice Johnson of Florida, is awaiting trial. As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Mr. Johnson is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Police Departments of the Cities of Des Peres, Bridgeton, Maryland Heights and St. Charles; and the O’Fallon, IL Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Berry handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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