News and Press Releases

Black Diamond Man Forged IDs, Checks and Even Law Enforcement Badges to Commit Fraud

October 21, 2008

JOHN MALCOLM STEWART, 45 , of Black Diamond, Washington, was sentenced today to 76 months in prison, 5 years of supervised release, and $205,419.94 in restitution for Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. STEWART was first arrested in February 2007, when Black Diamond Police executed a search warrant and found more than 20 phony Oregon and Washington State Drivers Licenses with STEWART’s picture and other people’s identifying information. In addition, investigators found all manner of forged documents including employee badges, press passes, military identification cards and a fake United States Customs badge. STEWART had even forged business cards identifying him as a Detective in the King County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Unit. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez said, “victims of identity theft do nothing to place themselves in a position to be victimized,” yet they end up with a “mess on their hands to sort out in the future.”

According to records filed in the case, STEWART has a lengthy history as a forger for a variety of bank fraud rings. In various interviews with law enforcement, STEWART told investigators he had supplied fraud rings with hundreds of fake IDs. STEWART indicated that meth-addicts were bringing him stolen mail two to three times a week, so that he could use the stolen information to make counterfeit documents and checks. STEWART also obtained information from insiders at a pawn shop and mortgage company. STEWART used the counterfeit documents to open lines of credit at various retailers so that he could purchase items for his own use. STEWART said he has used the counterfeit U.S. Customs badge to reassure a hesitant clerk that his identity was legitimate. Following his initial arrest and interview, STEWART returned within months to fraud activities. In June 2007, his new home in Auburn was searched and additional forged documents were recovered. Investigators learned STEWART had used a forged check just the day before to purchase more counterfeiting supplies.

STEWART supplied documents to other fraud rings prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Everett James was the leader of one such ring. James was sentenced January 18, 2008, to 65 months in prison and $190,947 in restitution. STEWART’s sentence includes 52 months for Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and an additional consecutive 24 months in prison for Aggravated Identity Theft as required under federal law.

Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa asked for a lengthy sentence for STEWART noting that “it is clear that he poses the highest degree of danger to the community. By his crimes, he has virtually raped scores of people of their most personal possessions: their good names, their good credit, their standing in the community, and their emotional well-being. He has systematically victimized scores of merchants and banks spanning at least four states. His life of criminal conduct and his pride in his accomplishments provide convincing proof of the serious danger he poses to the community.”

The case was investigated by the Black Diamond Police Department, the Enumclaw Police Department, the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Secret Service and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG).

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa as part of the United States Attorney’s Office Working Group on Identity Theft.

For additional information please contact Norman Barbosa at (206) 553-7970.

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