News and Press Releases

Used Stolen Checks and Fake Id to Steal More than $100,000 in Merchandise

May 23, 2008

AMY TUITA, 30, of Burien, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to three years in prison, three years of supervised release and $72,000 in restitution for Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, Bank Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft. TUITA’S co-defendant, Everett James, ran a ring of people across the west who used stolen checks and fake drivers licenses to purchase almost $200,000 in goods and services. Most of the merchandise was later returned for cash. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton called TUITA’s crimes “Despicable.... These crimes are a menace to society,” the Judge said.

According to records filed in the case, between February 2006, and March 2007, TUITA and James conspired with at least eight other people to defraud merchants and banks in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah and Idaho. The group used stolen checks or counterfeit checks drawn on legitimate bank routing numbers. Everett James obtained counterfeit Washington and California drivers licenses from a forger in Black Diamond, Washington. Using the stolen or counterfeit checks TUITA and her co-conspirators would purchase large amounts of merchandise at one store, and then return it to another branch of the store for cash. In this way TUITA and her cohorts defrauded Nordstrom of almost $70,000 and Wal-Mart of more than $34,000. In all TUITA passed 68 fraudulent checks totaling more than $68,000. TUITA sometimes rented the cars to transport co-conspirators and arranged for hotels while they traveled the country on their fraud spree.

TUITA used the identities of at least nine different people to accomplish her fraud. As Assistant United States Attorney Janet Freeman wrote in her sentencing memo, “Surely these victims felt frustration when they discovered their personal identification documents had been stolen and checkbooks had been ordered without their knowledge. It must have been a disappointing shock for them to learn that their driver license numbers and bank account information were being used to commit egregious frauds during an interstate crime spree. And, most certainly the victims felt violated as they expended effort clearing up these matters with local police, banks, and merchants.”

TUITA pleaded guilty October 29, 2007. Everett James pleaded guilty on September 25, 2007, and was sentenced January 18, 2008 to 65 months in prison and $190,947 in restitution.

TUITA was prosecuted as part of the United States Attorney’s Office working group on Identity Theft. The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Portland, Oregon Police Department, the Beaverton, Oregon Police Department, and the Pullman Washington Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Janet Freeman.

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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