Penny Lynn Fenstermaker Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on January 19, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, PENNY LYNN FENSTERMAKER, a 44-year-old resident of Bitterroot Valley/Ravalli County, pled guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sentencing has been set for April 20, 2011. She is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
As of October 2010, FENSTERMAKER was on federal supervision for various fraud offenses and crimes involving the interstate transportation of motor vehicles.
On October 1, 2010, FENSTERMAKER found a wallet in a restroom on the University of Montana campus. The wallet belonged to D.R. (full name withheld to protect privacy). FENSTERMAKER took D.R.'s Discover credit card, but either left the wallet in the restroom or turned it in to a lost and found. FENSTERMAKER then used and tried to use D.R.'s credit card at various businesses between Missoula and Hamilton. She successfully used the card three times and got rejected four times (once when she was trying to use the card as a debit card in Hamilton).
When D.R. received information from Discover about suspicious purchases, she reported the theft. A Campus Police officer investigated the case and ended up at a store in Lolo, where FENSTERMAKER had successfully used the card on October 1, 2010. FENSTERMAKER's federal probation officer accompanied Gunter to the store and they watched video surveillance footage of FENSTERMAKER shopping at the store on October 1st and using the stolen credit card to pay for her groceries.
FENSTERMAKER's successful and failed transactions with the credit card constitute wire fraud because Discover does not have any processing centers in Montana. Therefore, all transactions and attempted transactions using a Discover Card involve wire communication in interstate commerce.
FENSTERMAKER faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release. In addition, FENSTERMAKER faces an additional mandatory two year imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the University of Montana Campus Police.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.