District Man Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Fraud Schemes Targeting Tenants at Apartment Complex He Managed
Defendant Used Some Proceeds to Pay Restitution in Earlier Court Case
WASHINGTON – Tyi Michael Tunstall, 30, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for various schemes in which he used personal identifying information from others to steal more than $75,000, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Brian J. Ebert, Special Agent in Charge, Washington Field Office, U.S. Secret Service.
At the time of these offenses, Tunstall was on probation in an earlier fraud case. He used some of the proceeds of these schemes to pay his court-ordered restitution in the earlier case.
Tunstall pled guilty in March 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to wire fraud and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced by the Honorable James E. Boasberg. Following his prison term, Tunstall will be placed on three years of supervised release. He also must perform 100 hours of community service and pay $21,614 in restitution and an identical amount as a forfeiture money judgment.
Tunstall previously pled guilty in September 2013 to a charge of mail fraud. He was sentenced in March 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to five years of probation, with special conditions that he complete six months of home confinement to be followed by 20 weekends in jail. He also was ordered to pay $61,543 in restitution in that case.
According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Tunstall worked from July 2014 to July 2015 for a company that managed a senior citizens’ apartment complex in Washington, D.C., first as an office assistant and later as the complex’s manager. From Sept. 8 through Oct. 27, 2015, he worked at a staffing agency that assigned him to a call center for three credit unions. He used both workplaces as a means to carry out his schemes, as outlined below:
Identity Theft and Fraud at the Apartment Complex:
In one scheme, Tunstall stole the personal identifying information of an 83-year-old resident of the complex and used the information to open multiple accounts at financial institutions from March 2015 to October 2015. He used one card multiple times, causing American Express to incur $1,785 in losses. Tunstall also placed orders on a credit account at Montgomery Ward, causing $225 in losses.
In a separate scheme, Tunstall diverted to himself at least 22 checks and money orders from tenants to the apartment complex, totaling $8,723. These checks and money orders were intended to be used for rent, cable and community room rental. Tunstall added his name to the payee and/or memo line of the checks and money orders and kept them for his personal use.
Tunstall also created 18 additional counterfeit checks, using the names of the apartment complex and two other persons whose information he obtained. Some of these checks were returned, but Tunstall eventually received $1,640.
Identity Theft and Fraud at the Call Center:
While working at the credit union call center, Tunstall accessed a credit union member’s bank accounts. He created a counterfeit check using this account information in the amount of $61,525 and deposited it into his personal bank account. He also transferred $20,000 of the victim’s money to an account that he controlled and that he had set up in the name of the 83-year-old victim.
Tunstall used $52,512 of the proceeds from these schemes to pay off his restitution balance in the earlier case at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In addition to these acts, while he was on probation, Tunstall made a series of false representations to his probation officer and submitted forged documents to the Court, regarding his employment and other issues. This led to a probation revocation hearing on Oct. 29, 2015. At that time, Tunstall told the Court that he was able to pay the balance of his restitution because his grandmother had provided the money. In fact, as Tunstall well knew, he used the money that he had fraudulently obtained from others to pay off the restitution balance. His probation was revoked after the hearing and he has remained in custody ever since.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Special Agent in Charge Ebert commended those who investigated the case from the Secret Service’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Montgomery County, Md. Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Swanton, who assisted with forfeiture issues; Criminal Investigator Nicole Hinson; Document Management Analyst John Lowell; Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms, and Victim/Witness Advocates Yvonne Bryant and James Brennan.
Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter C. Lallas, who prosecuted the matter.