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CALIFORNIA MAN SENTENCED TO FOUR YEARS IN PRISON FOR AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT - Defendant Used Insider Info to Take Over Bank Accounts from Unsuspecting Victims

January 1, 2010

JOHN GIDIMIN KLIMAS, 52, of Fremont, California was sentenced today to four years in prison and two years of supervised release for two counts of Aggravated Identity Theft. KLIMAS and a co-defendant are believed to have used account information from an insider at U.S. bank to steal $126,906 from customer accounts. Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik recommended KLIMAS for drug treatment while in federal prison, citing his significant heroin addiction. “You’re 52 years-old. You don’t want to be going in and out of prison and doing this. You have to take command.... You have to want to succeed at drug treatment.”

According to court records, between October 2005 and February 2006, KLIMAS and KARLENE ROSE BAUER (who is a fugitive) obtained names, drivers license numbers and bank account numbers and balances for customers at U.S. Bank. Many of these customers had large bank balances. Investigators believe that the information was provided by a bank insider. KLIMAS and BAUER got fake drivers licenses with their pictures on them but the real drivers license numbers of the bank customers. Using these fake identifications, they made teller withdrawals from U.S. Bank branches in California and Washington. On some occasions they got cashiers checks made out to other people. They then used additional fake identification to cash these cashiers checks. One account was robbed of more than $92,000.

KLIMAS was arrested on March 20, 2006 after a security thumb print he provided when cashing a cashier’s check at a U.S. Bank branch in Seattle was matched to his prints on file in California. KLIMAS pleaded guilty on June 19, 2006.

At sentencing Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence Lincoln noted that KLIMAS and BAUER took over these accounts and “drained the accounts of everything they could get.” Identity theft involving account take-overs does more damage to a person’s financial history, does more emotional damage and takes more time to repair.

KLIMAS was prosecuted federally with the new Aggravated Identity Theft statute that mandates an additional 24 month term on top of the sentence imposed for an underlying crime. In this case KLIMAS is getting 24 months for each count of Aggravated Identity Theft. The United States Attorney’s Office has a new working group assigned to prosecute qualifying cases under the federal statute.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Seattle Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence Lincoln.

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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