Identity Theft Group Dismantled
News just released by the Utah Attorney General's Office:
IDENTITY THEFT RING BUSTED
Authorities hope that a well-organized identity theft ring that victimized banks, businesses and individuals has been dismantled. Today federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested 9 people suspected of forgery, distributing methamphetamine and illegally possessing a weapon. Two others have also been charged in connection with the undercover investigation.
The eleven defendants are charged with 45 felony counts. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests and charges could be forthcoming.
"These suspects took stolen Drivers Licenses, checks and bank cards and turned them into fake ID's and checks. Then they used the cash to buy meth and guns," said Jade Pusey, Director of Law Enforcement at the Attorney General's Office.
Jeni Armbrust was one of the victims. Investigators discovered her credit cards and check book during the investigation. "It was devastating," said Armbrust. "It's absolutely scary that someone has your identity and is pretending to be you all over town and passing your checks."
The following people have been charged and arrested:
* Christopher Owen Young, 35, One 1st Degree Felony, Controlled Substance
* Messalina Dejongh, 27, Two 1st Degree Felonies, Controlled Substance
* Rachel Sutton, 41, Three 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery & Possession of a Writing Device
* Mark Allen Leake, 35, Fourteen 3rd Degree Felonies, Unlawful Possession of Card & One 1st Degree Felony, Controlled Substance
* Jody Lee Turnbow, 36, One 1st Degree Felony, Controlled Substance
* Troy K. Miller, 39, Five 3rd Degree Felonies, Possession of a Forged Writing
* Shayne Grover, 36, Two 3rd Degree Felonies, Possession of a Writing Device & Possession of a Handgun by a Restricted Person
* Anthony (Tony) Vinucci, 38, Four 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery
* Manuel Pacheco, 39, Five 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery & Possession of a Forged Writing
The following people have been charged and have not yet been arrested:
* Seth Plexico, 31, Four 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery & Possession of a Writing Device
* David Ray Hymas, 30, Two 3rd Degree Felonies, Forgery & Possession of a Forged writing
The multi-state investigation included law enforcement officers from the Attorney General's Office; FBI; Joint Terrorism Task Force; Joint Criminal Apprehension Team; Department of Corrections STG/Gang Investigation Unit and their SERT team; United States Secret Service; United States Customs Department; Utah Department of Public Safety; State Computer Crime Lab and their Special Bureau of Investigations; Utah Highway Patrol; Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Metro Gang Unit and their SWAT team; Midvale Police Department; West Valley Police Department; Grand County Sheriff's Office. Representatives from Key Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Zions Bank and the Utah Bankers Association also helped in the successful undercover operation.
The Utah Attorney General's Office started investigating identity theft last July to help deal with the increasing incidents of violence associated with the crime.
"Everyone involved in this investigation should be congratulated for protecting more people from facing the misery that comes with having your identity stolen," said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
Consumers can find out more about identity theft and ways to reduce their risk at http://www.attorneygeneral.utah.gov/CA/IdFraudMain.htm.