Illinois court sentences woman in identity theft ring
An Illinois court recently sentenced a California woman to a nine-year prison term, for her involvement in a large-scale identity theft ring. After spending nearly six months in jail, pending trial, she was sentenced for her guilty plea, which was entered last summer. She was charged with continuing a financial crimes enterprise, forgery and counterfeiting. During the course of her activity, she took upwards of $184,000 from at least 12 victims, according to the Daily Herald.
Although the Illinois court sentenced the woman, she was a resident of California and was recruited to participate in the identity theft activity. Most of those whose information was accessed and used were from California, but many Illinois banks were among the chosen locations for large cash withdrawals from the people’s accounts. Video surveillance from the banks were among the evidence used in the investigation.
The woman, and four others were charged with related crimes nearly one year ago. At the time of the arrest, local police recovered 562 credit cards, 229 driver’s licenses, 24 Social Security cards and dozens of other documents commonly used by identity thieves. Among the items purchased with the stolen funds, was a Honda Odyssey vehicle, bought using a Las Vegas woman’s identity.
According to the Daily Herald, the State’s Attorney on the case argued for a prison term of 13 years, based on testimony from the investigator on the case, who explained that the woman was responsible for much of the coordination efforts of what they believed was a large-scale scheme. They claimed others involved in the activity called her “mom” because of her alleged leadership role. The attorney also explained that after the woman was arrested, she skipped court and went to Wisconsin, where she withdrew $25,000 from another person’s account.
The woman’s attorney sought probation and drug treatment, stating that the woman was “nothing more than a vulnerable pawn caught up in a criminal enterprise.” She explained that the woman was not the “kingpin” the prosecution sought to make her out to be, stating that she was not a “career criminal” and that she was taken advantage of due to the fact that she was homeless and addicted to drugs when she was recruited by the others to participate in the identity theft activity. In a statement the woman read to the judge, according to the Daily Herald, she stated, “before this addiction, I had never stolen anything from anyone. I’m truly sorry from the bottom of my heart.” The judge was sympathetic to the woman’s plea, agreeing that she was “used, to an extent,” but was unwilling to impose a jail-free sentence.
Illinois law provides that activities involving identity theft, like forgery and counterfeiting, are felony crimes, depending on the circumstances of act. For those arrested for an identity theft crime, punishments can be serious and can involve lengthy jail terms. Contacting an attorney who is experienced in defending an identity theft case can provide you with the best outcome possible.