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Sept. 4, 2009

THREE SENTENCED TO PRISON IN INTERSTATE IDENTITY THEFT RING INVOLVING JUVENILLE IDENTIFCATION INFORMATION

(HOUSTON) – A husband and wife and a third defendant convicted of for their roles in a multi-state identity theft ring that used the personal identification of juveniles to obtain credit cards in an effort to defraud several financial institutions have been sentenced to prison, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

United States District Judge Sim Lake handed down prison terms for Malon Jackson, 41, of Sacramento, Calif., her husband, Theron Smith, 30, of Atlanta, Ga., and Leslie Washington, 36, of Humble, Texas, at a hearing this afternoon. Jackson and Smith were convicted in March 2009 of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft after pleading guilty. Washington pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Dec. 5, 2008.

These three defendants were involved in applying for and receiving hundreds of credit cards using the Social Security information of hundreds of juveniles beginning in 2007 and continuing through August 2008. They sought to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit from financial institutions based on the false Social Security information. The defendants arranged for the credit cards to be mailed to others in California, Texas, Georgia and Florida who, in turn, mailed the fraudulently obtained credit cards to Jackson and Smith in Georgia. An investigation was initiated by the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) after one of the affected financial institutions reported unusual account activity. Today the court held Jackson and Smith responsible for an intended loss of more than $500,000 in calculating their sentences.

During August 2008 USPIS inspectors executed a search warrant at the residence of Smith and Jackson near Atlanta. Inspectors found hundreds of pieces of mail sent by the financial institutions after receiving the fraudulent information and associated with the accounts, numerous credit card applications and credit cards, multiple telephones and other equipment associated with accessing and opening the fraudulent accounts, a credit card machine used to run fraudulent credit cards and journals full of victim identification information such as names, addresses and access codes.

During the sentencing hearing today, the court heard about recorded telephone calls between Jackson and Washington. One of those calls included a statement by Jackson to Washington detailing Jackson and Smith’s goal to process 40 applications a day and to make $10,000 per week. Judge Lake found that Smith and Jackson were responsible for organizing the multi-state conspiracy and considered that finding in handing down the sentence.

Judge Lake sentenced Jackson and Smith, each to a total of 61 months in federal prison without parole which includes 41 months for the conspiracy conviction and a mandatory additional 24 months for the aggravated identity theft conviction to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release. Jackson and Smith have been permitted to remain on bond pending the issuance of a court order to surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

Leslie Washington was sentenced to 33 months imprisonment for the mail fraud conviction to be followed by three-year-term of supervised release.

The court ordered a total of $167,623 in restitution to be paid to affected financial institutions by the defendants jointly and severally. However, Washington is liable for only $56,122 of that sum.

Washington is presently in federal custody and will remain in custody to serve her sentence.

This case was investigated by the USPIS and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan D. McConnell.

 

 

 

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