News and Press Releases

Feds seek Lengthy Sentence using Aggravated Identity Theft Statute

January 27, 2006

CORETTA SHANEE CALDWELL, 24, of Renton, Washington, was sentenced today to 48 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Misuse of a Social Security Number and Aggravated Identity Theft. In sentencing CALDWELL, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez acknowledged CALDWELL’s difficult childhood stating, “I do understand how you got here, but it doesn’t justify what you did.” Judge Martinez urged CALDWELL to use the prison time in a constructive manner, “for your sake and your family.”

CALDWELL was arrested August 18, 2005, after investigators uncovered her scheme to use other people’s social security numbers with various false identities to commit fraud against banks and other merchants. According to court documents CALDWELL “legally” changed her name more than a dozen times through the state court system, usually by falsely claiming to have gotten married. CALDWELL would then use that paperwork to obtain a Washington State driver’s license or identification card in a new name. CALDWELL obtained more than a dozen identities in less than three years. She used the identities to open seventeen different bank accounts to withdraw cash and write bad checks. In all she obtained more than $66,000 through frauds against more than fifty different victims.

In September, 2003, in the midst of her scheme, CALDWELL was sentenced in King County Superior Court to eight months in jail for Forgery. She was ordered to have no contact with Bank of America for five years. She was released from jail in April, 2004, and went on to open six accounts with Bank of America where she ran up thousands of dollars in losses. In asking for a significant sentence Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi wrote to the court, “it is clear that shorter terms of incarceration have been insufficient to deter Ms. Caldwell in the past.”

Under the Aggravated Identity Theft statute that took effect July 15, 2004, those convicted of Aggravated Identity theft must be sentenced to an additional 24 months in prison following the time they serve for any other conviction. CALDWELL is one of the first in the Western District of Washington to be sentenced under the new statute.

The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG), the FBI, Seattle Police Department, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPS) and the King County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi prosecuted the case.

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

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