Houston Man Faces Arraignment in Federal Case Alleging Manufacture of Fake Airline IDs to Obtain Free Flights
LOS ANGELES – A Houston man who was arrested earlier this month in Texas is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon on federal fraud and identity theft charges that allege a scheme to manufacture counterfeit Mesa Airlines employee identification badges that were used to obtain free flights on another airline.
Alphonso Lloyd, 25, is set to appear in United States District Court on charges contained in a six-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on August 17. After being arrested last month in Texas, Lloyd was freed on bond and ordered to appear before a United States Magistrate Judge in Los Angeles.
The indictment charges Lloyd and two other defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The indictment also alleges charges related to the illegal possession of use of identity documents and aggravated identity theft.
The other two defendants charged in this case previously were arraigned and entered not guilty pleas. Kamille Jemison, 26, a former Houston resident who recently relocated to the Beverly Grove District of Los Angeles, was arrested on September 19 and subsequently freed on a $20,000 bond. Hubbard Bell, 30, a Houston resident and former Mesa airlines employee has been in federal in custody in Los Angeles since mid-2017 in relation to another case, was arraigned on October 1. United States District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ordered both defendants to stand trial next month.
The indictment alleges that, through most of 2016 and 2017, Bell and Jemison used Mesa Airline employee identification information to book free flights on Spirit Airlines through Spirit’s web portal for themselves and others, including Lloyd. Bell, Jemison, Lloyd and others took hundreds of flights – across the United States and to Nicaragua – on “non-rev” passes, which is a perk offered to airline employees.
Bell and Jemison allegedly manufactured fake Mesa employee identification cards that the fliers used to board the fraudulently obtained flights. The indictment alleges that Lloyd attempted to use such a fake identification to board a Spirit flight leaving from Los Angeles International Airport on May 6, 2017.
An indictment is merely an allegation and each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
If they were to be convicted of the charges in the indictment, Bell would face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. If there were to be convicted, Jemison and Lloyd would face a maximum sentence of 37 years in prison.
The case was investigated by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who received substantial assistance from the Federal Air Marshal Service and the Transportation Security Administration.
This case is being prosecuted by Joseph D. Axelrad of the Violent and Organized Crime Section, and Assistant United States Attorney Poonam G. Kumar of the Major Frauds Section.
Bell has been in custody since June 2017 in relation to a gun-trafficking case. In that case, Bell pleaded guilty on August 13 to conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in firearms without a license. In a plea agreement filed in that case, Bell admitted transporting firearms on flights between Houston and Los Angeles, and the guns were resold in California and Nevada. The gun case led to the investigation that culminated with the fraud and identity theft case being announced today. Bell is scheduled to be sentenced in the gun case by Judge Fitzgerald on December 3, at which time he will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.