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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Two Indictments Brought Against Bakersfield Women for Possession of Stolen Mail and Identity Theft

FRESNO, Calif. — Two Bakersfield women were arrested today for federal offenses related to possession of stolen U.S. mail and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. A federal grand jury in Fresno returned the indictments on June 7, 2018.

According to the first indictment, Kammi Sargent, 48, was charged with bank fraud, possession of stolen U.S. mail and aggravated identity theft.  Court documents indicate that Sargent obtained stolen identity documents, including driver’s licenses of women who had similar appearances to her. With the stolen identification documents, Sargent opened bank accounts under the victims’ names. She obtained checks stolen from the mail and washed off the name of the payee, substituting the name of the stolen identity onto the check. Sargent then deposited the stolen and altered checks into the fraudulently obtained bank accounts, and used a credit or debit card tied to the accounts to withdraw funds.

According to the second indictment, Erin Peterson, 40, is charged with possession of stolen U.S. mail, unlawfully possessing 15 or more unauthorized access devices (credit or debit cards), possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine, and aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, from July to December 2017, Peterson was using credit and debit cards stolen from the mail to make purchases at various retail establishments in Bakersfield. Purchase records, including photographic captures of Peterson conducting fraudulent purchases, were obtained from the retail stores.

On December 28, 2017, a federal search warrant at Peterson’s residence found 428 pieces of stolen mail, 31 stolen credit and debit cards, over a hundred personal and business checks, and a counterfeit arrow key used to access community mailboxes. Also located in the residence was approximately 149 grams of crystal methamphetamine, $1,400 in cash, narcotics packaging material, and a digital scale.

These cases are the product of investigations by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Bakersfield Police Department with assistance from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant US. Attorney Brian R. Delaney is prosecuting both cases.

If convicted, Sargent faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. If convicted, Peterson faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $5 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Updated June 20, 2018