U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
October 21, 2009
Five plead guilty in identity theft fraud scheme
Eric Snead, 32, of Providence, and four other defendants have pleaded guilty to identity theft and credit card fraud for obtaining duplicate credit cards of victims’ accounts and using the cards at casinos, auto club service centers, and retail stores. Snead and his cohorts compromised the accounts of nearly 50 victims and defrauded three banks of more than $400,000.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced the latest guilty plea, which Snead entered today before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi in U.S. District Court, Providence.
Three codefendants previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme: Harry Gonzalez, 43, Norma Danzot, 40, and Kenneth Muniz, 21, all of Providence. In a related case, Dwayne Silva, 27, of Providence, also pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy.
At Snead’s plea hearing today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Adi Goldstein said the government could prove that Snead, with the help of his coconspirators, obtained identity information of nearly fifty victims and created temporary Rhode Island drivers’ licenses in the victims’ names, but with pictures of his coconspirators. After reviewing victims’ credit reports that he’d obtained, Snead requested from financial institutions duplicate credit cards for the victims’ accounts.
Snead had the duplicate cards shipped by commercial shippers, then had his coconspirators, using the false temporary drivers’ licenses, intercept the shipments, either outside the intended address, or at a shipping company terminal.
Snead then directed his coconspirators to use the cards to obtain cash advances at casinos in Connecticut, or at automobile club service centers. They also used the cards to purchase televisions, computers, cell phones, and other electronic equipment, which the conspirators later sold on the street. Proceeds were divided among the participants according to their roles in particular transactions.
Snead also used fraudulent cards to purchase airline tickets, and the cards were used at casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
Snead pleaded guilty to 32 charges, including conspiracy and various counts of fraudulent use of access devices, illegally producing identification documents, fraudulent possession of documents, unlawful possession of a document making implement, and aggravated identity theft.
Gonzales, Danzot, Muniz, and Silva each pleaded guilty to conspiracy and various counts of access device fraud. Gonzales and Muniz also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft.
All defendants are detained except for Munoz, who is free on bond pending sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for Munoz on November 13, Silva December 9, and Gonzales and Danzot December 11. Snead is scheduled to be sentenced on January 29.
The maximum penalties for the offenses to which the defendants pleaded guilty are: Conspiracy – five years imprisonment; access device fraud – ten years imprisonment; unlawful production of an identification document, illegal possession of identification documents, and possessing a document-making implement – 15 years imprisonment; aggravated identity theft – two years imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Each offense also carries a maximum fine of $250,000, except for aggravated identity theft, which does not call for a fine.
The United States Secret Service, Rhode Island State Police, and Providence Police conducted the investigation.