Six 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 Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson sentenced Joel Delano Powell III, age 20, of Minneapolis, to 42 months in prison; and Trey Jeremiah Powell, age 20, of Brooklyn Park, to 57 months in prison. Both had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Earlier this week, Joel Delano Powell, Jr., age 47, of St. Louis Park, was sentenced to 300 months in prison. Powell, Jr. was convicted following a jury trial in August and September 2012 of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, seven counts of aiding and abetting bank fraud, and five counts of aggravated identity theft.
On Wednesday, Judge Magnuson sentenced Elston Edwards Sharps, age 47, of Minneapolis, to 32 months in prison; Kevin Terrell Martin, age 46, of St. Paul, to 124 months in prison; and Steven Lavell Maxwell, age 44, also of Minneapolis, to 140 months in prison. All three had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Seventeen other defendants have been sentenced in this case thus far, while nine 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, “This investigation came together as a result of the partnerships between agencies and the extraordinary efforts of all involved. The Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force led this investigation, but this is an example of successful collaboration of local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies.”
Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigations, St. Paul Field Office, which also participated in the investigation, said, “Individuals who commit identity fraud of this magnitude deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. These individuals caused immeasurable hardship to innocent victims. IRS Criminal Investigations remains committed to the pursuit of identity theft, and together with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we will hold those who engage in similar behavior fully accountable.”
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 Internal Revenue Service-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.