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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 21, 2016

Three Franklin County Residents Plead Guilty to Identify Theft Charges

St. Louis, MO – Three Franklin County, Missouri, residents have entered guilty pleas before United States District Judge John A. Ross involving their participation in a conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud in the Eastern District of Missouri.

 

John Dean Townsend, Pacific, MO, pled guilty today to one felony count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud.  Sentencing has been set for February 1, 2017.

 

Jessica L. Franklin, Beaufort, MO, pled guilty October 3 to one felony count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud and one felony count of aggravated identity theft.  Franklin is scheduled for sentencing on January 10, 2017.

 

Jesse Ray Chitwood, St. Clair, MO, pled guilty September 28 to one felony count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud.  Chitwood is scheduled for sentencing on January 4, 2017.

 

According to court documents, Townsend stole the personal identification information of his customers while he was employed at an automotive dealership located in St. Louis County.  He sold the information to Franklin.  Franklin used the stolen identification information to manufacture fraudulent Missouri Department of Revenue temporary driver’s licenses, which Franklin and Chitwood used to open lines of credit and purchase merchandise at various retailers throughout the Eastern District of Missouri.

 

Conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year term of imprisonment that must run consecutive to any other term of imprisonment. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

 

This case was investigated by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; the Washington, Missouri Police Department; the Ballwin Police Department and the Kirkwood Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Roy is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Updated October 21, 2016