doj.gif

NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


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


MARCH 12, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PERUVIAN NATIONAL PLEADS GUILTY TO CREDIT CARD CONSPIRACY THAT TARGETED ELDERLY WOMEN


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Peruvian national pleaded guilty in federal court today to participating in a conspiracy to steal credit cards from elderly women, then make thousands of dollars in purchases with the stolen credit cards.


             Felix Jimmy Vega-Iturrino, 36, a citizen of Peru living in California, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner this afternoon to the charges contained in an Oct. 3, 2007, federal indictment.


             Vega-Iturrino admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to steal credit cards and to use those credit cards to purchase merchandise and gift cards at retail stores in Missouri (in Independence and Lee’s Summit) and Kansas (in Overland Park, Olathe and Lenexa).


             Vega-Iturrino and co-conspirators traveled from California to Kansas City, Mo., in order to steal credit cards. Conspirators targeted elderly women who were shopping, employing distraction techniques to steal their wallets and credit cards so that the thefts could be accomplished without the victims becoming aware that their belongings were being stolen. Before the victims realized the cards had been stolen, and before the victims could contact their credit issuers to cancel the cards, conspirators used the stolen credit cards to purchase digital cameras, laptop computers, Ipods and other merchandise as well as gift cards.


             Conspirators then packaged the stolen items and shipped them to California, where accomplices would hold them until the conspirators returned from Kansas City.


             Vega-Iturrino also pleaded guilty to two counts of credit card device fraud involving two separate victims whose credit cards were stolen and used to make purchases.


             By pleading guilty today, Vega-Iturrino also agreed to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the offenses, including five laptop computers, eight Canon digital cameras, 29 Apple Ipods, and $3,000, all of which was seized by law enforcement officers from two residences and a Federal Express facility in Van Nuys, Calif., as well as the following items seized from the defendants: gift cards from Best Buy, Cheesecake Factory and Target, a one-carat diamond ring, a 1/10th-carat yellow gold men’s ring and $735.


            Under federal statutes, Vega-Iturrino could be subject to a sentence of up to 35 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $750,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Cowles. It was investigated by the Overland Park, Kan., Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service.

****************

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