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Press Release

Former Gainesville Resident Sentenced for Bank Fraud and Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Florida

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Donald Lee Phelps, 51, formerly a resident of Gainesville, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Mark E. Walker to five years imprisonment in federal prison for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft on Wednesday, July 17, 2013.  Following his release from prison, Phelps was ordered to serve a period of five years supervised release. The sentence also included an order of restitution in the amount of $68,785.50 to victims of the fraud, announced United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh. Phelps had pled guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft on April 3, 2013 in federal court.

Phelps arrived in Gainesville in January 2005 and falsely used the identity of a soldier serving a tour of duty in Iraq.  Using this identification, Phelps obtained employment, opened bank accounts and credit accounts. During the next year and a half, the defendant made multiple purchases through the credit accounts and made deposits into the bank from closed accounts.  He then made withdrawals from the bank.

Phelps was indicted by the grand jury of the Northern District of Florida, Gainesville Division, on January 22, 2013, after he was apprehended in Daphne, Alabama.  Phelps had been sought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since he fled Gainesville in December 2006.  Phelps had been living in Texas using an assumed name and, at the time of his arrest, was carrying the identification, including a passport, of another man.

United States Attorney Marsh said, “The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously prosecuting those individuals and groups of individuals who steal the identities of others and use those stolen identities to fraudulently obtain large amounts of money and merchandise in the name of the victim. The crimes of identity theft and identity fraud are particularly harmful because, in many cases, citizens are victimized twice – first, when their identity is stolen and used to fraudulently obtain monies and merchandise in their name, and second, when the victims suffer credit problems from nonpayment of charges to the victims based upon the fraudulent activity. We have intensified our efforts, along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, to identify and vigorously prosecute cases involving fraud and identity theft.”
Ms. Marsh praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose investigation led to the identification of Phelps and his apprehension in the case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Gregory P. McMahon.

Phelps has pending warrants outstanding in Texas, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, for probation violations for similar offenses.

Updated January 26, 2015