Four Head to Prison in Northeast Houston Theft and Fraud Ring
|August 8, 2014|
HOUSTON – Dana Sue Hales and three other Houston area residents have been sentenced in relation to a theft and fraud ring that operated in Northeast Harris County and elsewhere, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Hales, 42, pleaded guilty for her role in the overall scheme as did Lindsay Ann Grice, 27, Joseph Scott Ryder, 46, and Jason Craig White, 34.
Today, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon sentenced Hales to 51 months for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and for possessing stolen mail which will be served concurrently. She received an additional 24 months for aggravated identity theft which must be served consecutively for a total sentence of 75 months.
Previously, Grice received 12 months for bank fraud as well as a consecutive 24 months for aggravated identity theft, for a total sentence of 36 months in federal prison. White and Ryder were both convicted of possessing stolen mail and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and were each ordered to serve total sentences of 33 months.
According to the information revealed in open court, beginning at least in January 2012 the defendants broke into “blue” mail boxes located at or near area post offices to steal mail. Much of what the defendants stole included outgoing mail from citizens paying their bills. After opening the mail, they created false identifications and used them to open bank accounts and deposit the checks. On more than one occasion, area law enforcement were able to seize gym bags full of stolen mail from locations where the defendants were staying.
During the investigation, Grice was identified from bank surveillance photos negotiating stolen checks at First Convenience Bank. At the time of her guilty plea, she admitted she participated in the mail theft ring and had used the personal identification information of another person to cash stolen checks.
Information from court documents also revealed that in addition to stealing mail and cashing the checks using false identifications, Hales prepared false federal income tax returns and deposited the refund checks to accounts under her control.
On Sept. 5, 2012, Ryder was arrested at the residence of Hales on a parole violation warrant, at which time he was found to be in possession of a firearm. Ryder subsequently admitted that he, Hales and White were stealing mail, creating false identifications and cashing checks.
Later that month, agents and officers attempted the arrest of White, at which time he fled and attempted to pull a firearm. However, he dropped the gun and was arrested a short distance away. Stolen mail and additional firearms were found in a subsequent search of the residence. White confessed to participating with Hales, Ryder and others in stealing mail.
The matter was investigated by IRS-CI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with important contributions from the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, Harris County Precinct Four Constable’s Office, Humble Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the U.S. Marshals Service Violent Offenders Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James R. Buchanan.