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ANACORTES MAN GETS FIVE YEARS FOR AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT, BANK AND WIRE FRAUD; COUPLE VICTIMIZED MORE THAN 250 PEOPLE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2005

RODGER JEROME NELSON, 33, of Anacortes, Washington was sentenced today to five years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik, for Bank and Wire Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft. In asking for a significant prison term, Assistant United States Attorney Susan M. Harrison told the court NELSON and co-defendant Lori Linn Simmons "undertook an extraordinary criminal spree by which hundreds of people's mail was stolen, cars were burgled, and scores of people's identities were stolen and exploited for Nelson's and Simmons own personal gain." At the couple's Anacortes home investigators found mail and identities of more than 250 people from across Western Washington.

When NELSON pleaded guilty in August 2005, he admitted stealing mail from homes and purses from parked cars. He and Simmons then used the victims' credit cards, checks and other personal information to commit bank and wire fraud. The couple used other people's credit to purchase everything from pizza at Dominoes and drinks at Starbucks, to a $2,000 LCD television from Dell. The total fraud over nine months is more than $30,000. But the damage to victims goes beyond the financial toll. As Harrison wrote to the court: "The nightmare of having one's identity stolen, the daily assaults of new unauthorized withdrawals, credit accounts and purchases, along with constant dunning by collection agencies – all take an emotional toll that cannot be assessed by numerical calculations and tables alone." Chief Judge Lasnik agreed saying, "you preyed on ordinary people who were just going about their lives."

The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Susan M. Harrison.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110.

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