Erin Lee Stewart Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula on February 9, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, ERIN LEE STEWART, a 50-year-old resident of Gallatin Gateway, pled guilty to credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sentencing has been set for May 7, 2010. She is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M. Archer, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
STEWART was a manager at a restaurant at Big Sky Resort in 2007 and 2008. In this position, she managed several employees, including K.M. and J.W. who, in late 2008, reported that their identities had been stolen.
Subsequent investigation revealed that an application with Barclay's Bank on October 28, 2008, was approved and a card was issued to "KM" at and address on Gallatin Road, Gallatin Gateway. This was an electronic credit card application and the listed e-mail address was firstname.lastname@example.org, it also had a maiden name of "Underwood" listed. KM stated that she did not authorize this credit card, has never lived at the address on Gallatin Road, does not have a maiden name of "Underwood," and does not use the e-mail address of email@example.com.
However, STEWART did reside at the residence on Gallatin Road. KM also stated that while she was working at Big Sky, STEWART called her daughter "Dazy Rainbow." Microsoft records for the firstname.lastname@example.org account confirm that it was opened under the Gallatin Road address. Over $3,000 was charged on the card and there is over $2,400 in fraud loss.
A search by federal law enforcement officials was conducted at the Gallatin Road address and a Dell Laptop ordered in K.M.'s name was recovered. STEWART's daughter told agents that her mom gave it to her as a gift. After an exam was conducted, it was discovered that this laptop had been used to access the email@example.com email address.
Additional evidence showed that mail at the Gallatin Road address was being delivered in the names of K.M and J.S. Investigation revealed that STEWART had obtained credit cards in the names of other individuals who worked under her at the restaurant. In one instance, a card was obtained with J.W's social security number. The card was used at a Walmart Store, and the receipt was signed with the name ERIN STEWART.
In all, there was over $6,800 in fraud loss and at least five identities were compromised.
STEWART faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release. In addition, STEWART faces an additional mandatory two year imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.