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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


BRADLEY J. SCHLOZMAN



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



JANUARY 18, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


TWO WOMEN PLEAD GUILTY

TO IDENTITY THEFT


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Bradley J. Schlozman, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Lee’s Summit, Mo., woman and an Overland Park, Kan., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to participating in an identity theft conspiracy.


            Barbara DeLuce, 60, of Lee’s Summit, and Hope G. Madewell, 28, of Overland Park, pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith this morning to the charge contained in an Aug. 10, 2006, federal indictment.


            By pleading guilty today, DeLuce and Madewell admitted between that between March 3, 2005, and Sept. 26, 2005, they were involved in a conspiracy to use stolen identity information and counterfeit Kansas driver’s licenses, which resulted in significant losses for a number of victims. Co-conspirators used stolen identity information to open credit accounts and make purchases at stores like Sam’s Club, Target, Old Navy, Home Depot and others. They also used the stolen identity information to finance an automobile purchase and to apply for cellular telephone service.


            Personal identity information of the identity theft victims was allegedly stolen from two Kansas City-area businesses – Jeremy Franklin Suzuki and Hearthside Lending, a real estate loan brokerage – that kept large volumes of credit information of their customers, including credit bureau reports that reflected the creditworthiness of each identity theft victim. A former employee of Jeremy Franklin Suzuki allegedly participated in the conspiracy by stealing credit bureau reports obtained by the car dealership in connection with the financing of automobile sales, which he then sold to a co-conspirator.


            Co-conspirators who managed the scheme recruited others to the conspiracy by promising them a share of the proceeds. The identity theft victims’ financial information was used by the conspirators to make computer-generated counterfeit Kansas driver’s licenses, containing the information of the identity theft victims but with the photo of one of the recruited conspirators. The conspirators used the stolen identities and counterfeit driver’s licenses to make instant credit applications at retail stores while posing as the identity theft victims. Once the instant credit applications were approved, they made credit purchases at the stores.


            Under federal statutes, DeLuce and Madewell each could be subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. Sentencing hearings are scheduled in May 2007.


            Co-defendant Charles W. Vann, 32, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty on Dec. 27, 2006, to his role in the conspiracy. A sentencing hearing is scheduled on May 8, 2007.


            Co-defendant Cedric Anson, 36, also of Kansas City, pleaded guilty to the same charge on Dec. 13, 2006, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2007.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Cowles. It was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Financial Crimes Task Force, including officers from the Independence, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, the Overland Park, Kan., Police Department, the Johnson County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department, the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, and IRS-Criminal Investigation.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html