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January 24, 2012

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee

Cocke County Man Sentenced For Credit Card Fraud And Firearms Violations

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. Billy Chad Reese, 39, of Newport, Tenn., was sentenced to serve 130 months in prison by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville. The sentence was the result of a guilty plea by Reese on August 11, 2011, to a federal indictment charging him with unauthorized use of access devices (credit/debit car fraud), using identification documents of other persons to commit credit card fraud, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. In addition to the prison term, Reese was ordered to serve five years of supervised release after his release from prison as well as pay $23,045.06 in restitution. Sentencing for Christy Leann Reese and Jessica Hope Daniels is set for February 27, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. in Greeneville.

As set out in the factual statement in his plea agreement, Reese, his wife Christy Leann Reese, and Jessica Hope Daniels engaged in a scheme to break into cars in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and Pisgah National Forest (PNF), steal credit and debit cards and other property, and then fraudulently use the credit and debit cards in Cocke County.

Between early May 2010 through January 2011, visitors to the GSMNP and the PNF in Haywood County, N.C., reported thefts of personal property from their automobiles as well as damage to their vehicles caused by the unlawful entries. The crimes were similar in that the vehicles were left at trail heads in relatively remote areas of the PNF and GSMNP. They were also similar in that the passenger side windows were broken out on the vehicles. U.S. Forest Service (USFS) officers investigated three vehicle break-ins at Harmen Den and surrounding areas on May 9, 2010, one break-in on August 2, 2010, and five vehicle break-ins on September 5-6, 2010. Credit and debit cards stolen from the vehicles were fraudulently used in the same areas in Cocke County, Tenn., shortly after the break-ins. A U.S. government credit card stolen from the personal vehicle of a USFS employee on May 9, 2010, was subsequently used at Murphy Oil (Wal-Mart’s gas station) in Newport, Tenn., by Billy Chad Reese and Christy Reese shortly after the theft. Christy Reese also unsuccessfully attempted to use the credit card to purchase jewelry at Wal-Mart in Newport that same day. On September 7, 2010, Billy Chad Reese, accompanied by Christy Reese, used a credit card stolen from a vehicle parked at the Max Patch trail head in the Harmen Den area of the PNF at a Gas and Go store in Newport, Tenn., shortly after the theft.

On January 23, 2011, National Park Service (NPS) Rangers received a report of break-ins of two vehicles at the Big Creek parking area in the GSMNP. The victims had parked their vehicles on January 22, 2011, and, upon their return on January 23, had discovered a window had been broken out of each vehicle and items taken. Credit cards stolen in the break-ins were then used by the Reeses and Daniels in Cocke County to make numerous purchases at convenience stores and markets.

On January 29, 2011, a North Carolina man had his vehicle broken into while parked at the trail head of the Appalachian Trail in Haywood County in an area known as Brown’s Gap. The victim’s wallet and numerous items of personal property were stolen. The Reeses, who had broken into the vehicle, along with Daniels used the stolen credit cards as well as the victim’s North Carolina driver’s license to make purchases at convenience stores and markets in Cocke County, Tenn.

NPS and USFS agents and officers along with officers from the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office executed a federal search warrant at the Reeses’ residence in Bybee, Tenn., on March 1, 2011. Items taken from the vehicle break-ins were recovered at the residence as well as from Billy Chad Reese’s mother’s residence in Newport. A .22 caliber revolver was also found in a bedroom dresser at the Reeses’ Bybee residence. During an interview the following day, Billy Chad Reese admitted to breaking into vehicles in the GSMNP and PNF and enlisting Daniels to use credit and debit cards stolen from the vehicles to fraudulently purchase cigarettes at convenience stores and markets in Cocke County. He stated that he sold the cigarettes to a Newport convenience store owner. He also admitted to possessing the revolver. Reese had previously been convicted in Jefferson County Criminal Court of seven counts of aggravated burglary as well as convictions in Cocke County for theft of property. Because of his prior burglary convictions, Reese’s unlawful possession of the revolver was subject to an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

The indictment and subsequent conviction of Reese was the result of a investigation conducted by the NPS and USFS with assistance from the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Tennessee Highway Patrol.

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