Eight Defendants Plead Guilty in Federal Court to Conspiracy and Bank Fraud
Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, and Robert N. Carwell, Team Leader of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for Las Vegas, Nevada, announced that JUSTIN STONECYPHER, TASHA GURTNER, DANIEL ENGLAND, LEE KINGEN, MARTIN DEGENHARDT, CHANTIA LAIL, JEANETTE WATTS, and CHALLISA PARISI have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas for their roles in a scheme to fraudulently obtain money from banks and other financial institutions by using false identities, stolen checks and credit cards, and counterfeit identification documents. All of the defendants but two pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy, a violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 371, and one count of Bank Fraud, a violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1344. The other defendants, PARISI and LAIL, pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy. The guilty pleas for defendants STONECYPHER and GURTNER were entered before U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Pro on May 29, 2002; the others were entered on July 24 and July 25, 2002.
The defendants were named in an eight-count Indictment returned by the federal Grand Jury on May 15, 2002. An additional defendant charged in the Indictment, RACHEL YOUNG, remains a fugitive. According to the court records, beginning in approximately May 2001, defendant STONECYPHER stole boxes of checks placed in the mail to various bank customers; in one instance, he jumped the outer wall of the United States Post Office at 3375 S. Rainbow Boulevard in Las Vegas to steal the mail. STONECYPHER then created counterfeit driver's license in the names of the account holders whose names appeared on the stolen blank bank checks. Between April and August 2001 in Las Vegas, the defendants then cashed checks drawn on various banks and credit unions by presenting the counterfeit identifications and forging the signatures on the checks.
The defendants are facing up to 30 years in federal prison and a $1,000,000 fine for the Bank Fraud charges, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the Conspiracy charges. The actual sentence will be dictated by the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and will be imposed in the discretion of the Court.
Defendants GURTNER and STONECYPHER are scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Pro on August 16, 2002, at 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., respectively; defendants ENGLAND, KINGEN, DEGENHARDT, LAIL, WATTS, and PARISI are scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Pro on October 18, 2002, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Persons who commit such crimes, commonly known as identity theft, can be prosecuted under a number of different federal criminal statutes and the crimes are investigated by federal investigative agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This case was investigated by Inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Las Vegas and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin J. Roberts and Nancy J. Davis. If you have information regarding stolen mail, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service locally. If you have been the victim of identity theft, you may also contact the federal government's central website for information about identity theft at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/.