Member of the Simple City Criminal Organization Sentenced to Over Six Years in Federal Prison for Her Participation in a Racketeering Conspiracy and Aggravated Identity Theft
Used the Identities of More Than 230 Victims to Engage in Fraudulent Financial Transactions
Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel sentenced Sylvia Price, a/k/a “Deez Nuts,” age 50, of Suitland, Maryland today to 75 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to participate in a racketeering conspiracy and to aggravated identity theft, in connection with her activities in the Simple City Criminal Organization (SCCO), a racketeering enterprise engaged in fraud and related activity, including vehicle theft and interstate transportation of stolen property. Specifically, Sylvia Price engaged in fraudulent financial transactions, using the identities of over 230 victims, with losses to the victims of SCCO’s activities of at least $453,900. Judge Hazel ordered Price to pay a money judgment in the amount of $453,900.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department.
According to her plea agreement, from at least 2009 to July 2015, Price met with the leader of the conspiracy, Jeff Crews, Stefon Janey, and other co-conspirators on a regular basis, and planned criminal activity, including vehicle theft, the interstate transportation of stolen property, identity theft and credit/debit card fraud. The SCCO received money and income from those criminal activities.
According to his plea agreement, Crews and other SCCO members would steal vehicles in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, Maryland, as well as in Washington, D.C. Crews and SCCO members sometimes used the stolen vehicle in a short crime spree during which they committed a string of auto thefts; thefts from autos; and commercial burglaries targeting ATM machines. Crews and other SCCO members would provide any personal identification information and access devices stolen during the crime spree to another group within the SCCO, which was led by Sylvia Price.
According to her plea agreement, after Sylvia Price received the stolen pocketbooks containing checks, credit and debit cards, and other forms of identification, such as driver’s licenses, from Crews and other members of SCCO, she and other conspirators used the stolen items to conduct fraudulent financial transactions. The money obtained from those transactions was given to Price, who provided a portion of the fraud proceeds to Crews, for disbursement to the SCCO members who participated in the thefts. Law enforcement intercepted communications between Price and Crews in which they discuss Crews and other conspirators providing handbags stolen from automobiles to Price. On one occasion, after Price had agreed to meet Crews at his residence, law enforcement observed Price remove a clear plastic bag containing a number of purses and handbags from the back seat of her car and carry it into her residence.
On July 16, 2015, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Price’s home in Suitland and recovered checkbooks and means of identifications of individuals who had reported their vehicles stolen, or had reported a theft of those items from their vehicle. In addition, law enforcement recovered 95 women’s designer handbags worth approximately $53,000, as well as gift cards totaling approximately $1,180.
In addition to the money judgment, Judge Hazel ordered Price to forfeit 101 high end women’s handbags including: Betsy Johnson; Chanel; Coach; Gucci; Hermès; Kate Spade; Michael Kors; Zac Rosen; and others. In addition, Price was ordered to forfeit forty-five debit cards; credit cards; checks; gift cards; department store cards; and gas cards.
Eleven of fourteen defendants charged in this case have pleaded guilty to their participation in the racketeering conspiracy, including Jeff Crews, a/k/a “Fro,” age 25, of Washington, D.C., and Stefon Janey, a/k/a “Stef,” and “Stef Luva,” age 23, of Marlow Heights, Maryland. Four defendants have been sentenced to between 27 and 43 months in prison. Charges against the three remaining defendants are pending.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Prince George’s County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department and the members of the Washington Area Vehicle Enforcement Unit for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas M. Sullivan and Nicolas A. Mitchell, who are prosecuting the case.