Judge Sentences Former U.S. Air Force Member to 4 Years in Prison for Stealing Personal Information of Service Members and Distributing It to Others
CHICAGO — A former member of the United States Air Force was sentenced today to four years in federal prison for stealing the personal identifying information of fellow service members and distributing it to others.
On the eve of his dismissal from the military, RONNIE ALLEN II stole a personnel roster containing the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other personal identifying information of more than 1,400 Air Force members stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. Hoping to make money, Allen distributed the stolen information to others, including co-defendant ANTORONDI BENION. The Air Force members’ information was then fraudulently used to open accounts at various financial institutions, and to file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service in the names of the Air Force members.
A federal jury earlier this year convicted Allen, 28, of Greensboro, N.C., on two counts of identity theft, two counts of access device fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly imposed the 48-month sentence in federal court in Chicago.
The sentence was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Valuable assistance was provided by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
“Identity theft is a serious crime,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Jodrey and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hayes argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Allen betrayed his fellow service members and displayed an alarming indifference to the financial havoc they would experience.”
Allen was an enlisted member of the Air Force who held a clerical position in the maintenance group. The position gave him access to the Alpha Roster, a database of detailed personal identifying information for Air Force members assigned to the base. Evidence presented at trial showed that two weeks prior to his discharge on Jan. 31, 2013, Allen downloaded the Alpha Roster and sent a copy from his work e-mail account to his personal e-mail account. Allen then asked an acquaintance if he knew anyone who could help him make money using the Alpha Roster.
Eventually Allen was put in touch with Benion, and on April 30, 2014, Allen e-mailed Benion the entire Alpha Roster. In the email to Benion, Allen wrote, “Man here is the whole list i trust u if u make money off of it u will pay me for the info.”
Benion used the Alpha Roster identities to fraudulently open financial accounts and to conduct “account takeovers,” which involved adding himself and others as authorized users on existing accounts and causing the banks to issue credit cards in their names. From April 2013 to January 2016, Benion was involved in establishing at least 63 accounts at various financial institutions in the names of 35 Alpha Roster victims, which resulted in losses totaling approximately $163,389.
Benion, of Bellwood, Ill., pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. On May 30, 2017, Judge Kennelly sentenced Benion to 70 months in prison.