News and Press Releases

two independence residents indicted for stealing identity
to conduct firearms transactions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two Independence, Mo., residents were indicted by a federal grand jury today for their roles in an identity theft conspiracy that involved illegal firearm transactions.

Steven P. Hernandez, 31, and Mary A. Turner, 41, both of Independence, were charged in a seven-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo.

Today’s indictment alleges that, from Jan. 1, 2011, to Aug. 10, 2011, Hernandez and Turner were involved in an identity theft conspiracy. According to the indictment, they stole the identity of another person (identified as “K.T.”) in order to obtain a “clean” name that could be used to conduct firearms transactions at area pawn shops. Conspirators, who could not legally purchase firearms in their own names, then split the proceeds from those firearm transactions.

Using the stolen identity of “K.T.,” the indictment says, Hernandez purchased a Jimenez 9mm pistol at an Independence pawn shop, pawned a Glock 9mm pistol at the same pawn shop, then later redeemed the Glock 9 mm pistol. Hernandez allegedly pawned a Jennings Bryco 9 mm pistol at a pawn shop in Topeka, Kan.

In addition to the conspiracy, Hernandez and Turner are charged together with one count of aggravated identity theft. Hernandez is also charged with two counts of furnishing a false identification to deceive a licensed firearms dealer in order to obtain a firearm.

The federal indictment also charges Hernandez with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, related to his possession of the two 9mm pistols, and charges Turner with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Turner was allegedly in possession of a Charter Arms .38-caliber revolver on Jan. 16, 2011.

Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sydney Sanders. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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