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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 29, 2015

Greenbelt Man Sentenced To Over 2 Years In Prison For Aggravated Identity Theft And Misuse Of A Social Security Number

Assumed the Identity of a Deceased California Man

Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Travis Lamont Phelps, age 46, of Greenbelt, Maryland today to 25 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for misuse of a social security account number and aggravated identity theft.  Judge Chasanow also ordered Phelps to pay restitution of $5,480.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division; and Lt. Colonel Anthony C. Satchell, Acting Superintendent of the Maryland State Police. 

According to his plea agreement, Phelps was wanted in North Carolina for trafficking Ecstasy.  On January 8, 2014, when law enforcement went to Phelps’ apartment on Edmonston Road, Phelps identified himself as Christopher James Williams and provided Virginia and Maryland identification cards, as well as a social security card in that name.  The date of birth on the identification cards and the social security number belonged to Christopher James Williams, a real person who died in California in 1982.

Law enforcement interviewed Phelps, who admitted that he was not Christopher Williams and confirmed his identifying information, including his date of birth.  Phelps knew that he was wanted on an outstanding North Carolina warrant and admitted that he assumed the Williams identity after researching possible alternate identities on the internet and determining that Williams was deceased.  Phelps obtained the Maryland identification card in the Williams identity on December 12, 2013, after providing the social security number card, a birth certificate, and other documents in the Williams identity.

Between 2007 and the time of his arrest in 2014, Phelps also applied for credit from numerous companies in the Williams identity.  The total past due balance on those lines of credit at the time of his arrest was at least $5,480.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General and the Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation and thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren E. Perry and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Baldwin, who prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated February 23, 2015