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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chicago Fraudsters Sentenced to Federal Prison for Convictions on Fraud and Conspiracy Charges

ALBUQUERQUE – Michael Anthony Fields, 49, Phillip Bush, 53, and Yolanda Michelle Winston, 45, all of Chicago, Ill., were sentenced yesterday to federal prison terms for their convictions on fraud and conspiracy charges.

Fields, Bush and Winston were arrested on Sept. 10, 2013, on a seven-count indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.  The indictment alleged that between Oct. 2, 2012 and Nov. 22, 2012, the defendants conspired with each other to steal credit cards from wallets of unsuspecting victims, use the credit cards to purchase gift cards at retail stores, and purchase items for themselves with the gift cards. 

According to court filings, defendants perpetuated their fraudulent scheme in a number of states, including Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico and Texas.  For example, on Oct. 6, 2012, the trio created a diversion while leaving a restaurant in Albuquerque which allowed one of the defendants to remove a wallet from a victim’s purse.  Later that day, Winston used the victim’s credit cards to purchase six pre-paid gift cards for $2,000 each along with other items, for a total of $12,074.88 in transactions.  The defendants later used the gift cards to make purchases in Texas, Arizona and Illinois.

On April 11, 2014, Bush and Winston each entered guilty pleas to charges of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Fields entered a similar guilty plea on April 25, 2014. 

Yesterday, the defendants were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.  Fields was sentenced a 62-month prison term; Bush was sentenced to a 74-month prison term; and Winston was sentenced to an 84-month prison term.  Each defendant will be on supervised release for three years after his or her prison sentences.

The defendants also were ordered jointly to pay restitution to the victims of their fraudulent conduct:  $8,074.88 to U.S. Bank, $4,000.00 to HSBC, and $10,141.79 to Bank of America.  Fields also was ordered to forfeit $58,961.42 from two bank accounts.  Bush and Winston each was ordered to pay a money judgment of $4021.39.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI with assistance from the Chicago Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Paige Messec.

Updated January 26, 2015