Four Individuals Sentenced For Their Roles In Large, Multi-state Identity Theft Ring
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, two individuals were sentenced for their roles in a large, multi-state, identity theft ring. United States District Judge Paul A. Magnuson sentenced Russell Raymond Royals, age 61, of Cottage Grove, to 120 months in prison; and Desmon Desmond Burks, age 38, of St. Paul, to 252 months in prison. Royals previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Burks was convicted on September 6, 2012, following a jury trial, of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of aiding and abetting bank fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
Two related defendants were sentenced last month for their roles in this conspiracy. On July 23, 2013, Norman Scott Allen, age 44, of Minneapolis, was sentenced to 80 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud. On July 22, 2013, Frederick Adrianne Hamilton, age 57, also of Minneapolis, was sentenced to 57 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of bank fraud. Both men were convicted on September 6, 2012 following a jury trial. Twenty-three other defendants have been sentenced in this case thus far, while five more await sentencing.
These individuals, along with over 100 others, were involved in a conspiracy from 2006 through December of 2011 to defraud banks, bank customers, and businesses. The co-conspirators used victim information to create counterfeit checks and false identification documents to conduct fraudulent transactions at retail establishments where expensive merchandise was purchased and returned for cash. At banks, the conspirators posed as customers and withdrew money from victims’ bank accounts. The members of the conspiracy conducted these fraudulent transactions throughout Minnesota and in at least 13 other states. Victim information was obtained by members of the conspiracy through multiple sources, including from individuals who stole victim information from their places of employment, from individuals employed at area banks, from those who stole the information from the mail, during vehicle break-ins, and business burglaries, among other sources.
Following sentencing, Patrick Henry, the head of the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, said, “The Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force led this investigation, but the effort was a success because of the extraordinary collaboration by all of the agencies involved.”
Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, St. Paul Field Office, which also participated in the investigation, said, “Investigating identity theft is a priority for IRS-Criminal Investigations. Today’s sentencings of Desmon Burks and Russell Royals should serve as a strong deterrent to those who are considering similar conduct. Law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are serious about investigating identity theft crimes and holding those accountable who commit these types of crimes.”
In a related case, five individuals were charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Jemall Ronta Williams, Jerome Davis, Jr., Tierra Samantha Catrina House, and Shanell Collette Brewer each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Gordon Lamarr Moore was convicted in April 2013 following a jury trial. During the trial, Moore fled and became a fugitive. On July 8, 2013, he was arrested in at a hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Moore attempted to again flee, but was ultimately apprehended without incident.
These cases resulted from an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the IRS-Criminal Investigations. They were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen B. Schommer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle E. Jones.
The Financial Crimes Task Force was established pursuant to state law and is comprised of local, state, and federal law enforcement investigators dedicated to combating the growing problem of cross-jurisdictional financial crimes. The task force, overseen by an advisory board also created under state law, serves the entire District of Minnesota, presenting its cases to county or federal prosecutors, as appropriate.
The task force and the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office want to remind people to protect themselves from identity theft. For more information, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov/protect-identity.html.
For more information on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/IdentityTheft.aspx . The IRS-Criminal Investigations also urges citizens to review the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, which can be found at http://www.irs.gov.
For tips on how to prevent mail theft, visit https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/MailTheft.aspx.