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Press Release

Tampa Area Defendants Convicted Of Identity Theft Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

G. F. Peterman, III, Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced today that verdicts of guilty were rendered on all seven counts of an indictment against Defendants Leonardo Hernandez-Triana, age 32, and Yadina Valdes-Dias, age 36, both from Tampa, Florida, charging them with identity theft-related offenses.  The case was tried before the Honorable W. Louis Sands, Senior United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia, Albany Division.

Count One of the indictment charged the defendants with possession of twenty counterfeit or unauthorized Walmart gift cards. Count Two charged the defendants with unlawful possession of two “skimmer” devices.  Counts Three through Seven charged the defendants with aggravated identity theft based upon their fraudulent possession of personal account information of five different persons from the Bowling Green and Greenville, Kentucky area.           

The case arose out of a traffic stop of the defendants’ vehicle on October 21, 2014, on Interstate 75 in Turner County. During the course of the traffic stop, law enforcement officers received consent from defendant Hernandez-Triana to search their vehicle. The officers discovered twenty counterfeit Walmart gift cards and two skimmer devices designed to be placed inside a gasoline pump to collect the account information of debit and credit cards used at that pump. The government’s evidence at trial showed that the persons whose accounts were compromised all made debit or credit card purchases of gasoline at about the same time from a particular convenience store in Greenville, Kentucky.  The evidence further showed that what appeared on their face to be twenty Walmart gift cards were in fact encoded with a magnetic strip containing the personal account information of those twenty persons whose identity data was stolen.   

Clint A. Bush, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Albany, Georgia Resident Office stated: “Identity theft, to include credit card fraud, is an ever increasing problem in our country. Victims of these crimes often have long lasting effects. The United States Secret Service, along with its law enforcement partners, remains committed to aggressively investigating those responsible for committing these crimes and bringing them to justice.” 

Acting United States Attorney Pete Peterman stated:  “Some individuals believe that identity theft and credit card fraud are minor felonies, but that is a mistaken belief.  Thousands of people suffer the indignity of having their identities stolen and then spend years trying to get back their good name.  Defendants who commit identity theft crimes will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” 

The case was investigated jointly by the United States Secret Service, Ashburn Police Department, the Georgia State Patrol, and the Tift County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Alan Dasher prosecuted the case on behalf of the Government.

Questions concerning this case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603.

Updated February 23, 2016

Topic
Identity Theft