Four Indicted for Identity Theft Scheme
|July 6, 2011|
HOUSTON – Four area men have been indicted for taking part in an identity theft ring at various banks in the Houston area, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.
Jason Michael Lall, 38, John Pierre Griffin, 32, John DaSilva Paz, 27, all residents of Houston, and Albert Richard, 51, of Missouri City, Texas, are all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of access device fraud. Hall and Richard are also charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft, while Griffin and Paz are charged with one and three counts of aggravated identity theft, respectively.
All four men were arrested by criminal complaint on June 3, 2011, and appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge on June 10, 2011. Paz and Richard are currently out on bond, while Lall and Griffin are currently being held in custody without bond. All four men appeared in court today for formal arraignment proceedings, at which time all entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. The case is currently set for trial on Aug. 29, 2011, before U.S. District Court Judge Melinda Harmon.
According to the allegations in the indictment returned at the end of June, beginning in August 2009, the defendants took part in a scheme in which overlay devices were manufactured to be placed on ATM machines in order to capture the identifying information of bank customers. The defendants rented vehicles and spray-painted and otherwise obstructed bank surveillance equipment in order to make themselves more difficult to identify. The information captured from the various ATM machines was then re-encoded onto fraudulent cards that were used to withdraw money in excess of $400,000 from various area bank locations.
The maximum penalty, upon conviction, for conspiracy to commit bank fraud is up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $1 million, while a conviction for each count of access device fraud is up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. Each count of aggravated identity theft carries a maximum penalty, upon conviction, of two years in prison to run consecutively with any other sentence and a fine of up to $250,000.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Leuchtmann will be prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.