A major federal case involving fake Puerto Rican IDs being sold in Cincinnati was back in the news last month as four of the nine defendants pleaded guilty to charges that included conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
On September 9, 2015, nine individuals were arrested and indicted on charges that alleged they were involved in a conspiracy to obtain Social Security cards and birth certificates for real individuals in Puerto Rico, ship the documents to Ohio and then sell the documents in the Cincinnati area for between $900 and $1200 per set. All of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and there were an additional 29 counts of aggravated identify theft along with two counts of money laundering.
Recently, four of the defendants pleaded guilty and now face severe penalties. All four of the defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, which brings the possibility of a large fine and up to 20 years in prison. Two of the four defendants pleaded guilty to money laundering, which also brings the possibility of a large fine and up to 20 years in prison. Three of the defendants also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence in addition to the sentences given for mail and wire fraud or money laundering. The other five defendants are still awaiting trial.
This case provides a vivid example of how seriously federal law enforcement is treating crimes that involve identity theft in an age when identifying information can be easily compromised. The charges do not allege that the identifications obtained in Puerto Rico were intended to be used for financial purposes, such as to obtain fake credit cards under the victim’s name. The purpose of the identifications may have been only to provide immigrants in the Cincinnati area with some type of government identification if they were unable to obtain one in the United States. However, all four of the defendants who pleaded guilty to the charges now face long terms in prison.
How a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you are facing federal aggravated identity theft charges, it means you are facing a mandatory prison term to go along with any penalty you face for the criminal acts that lead to the identity theft. You need an experienced attorney with the knowledge to defend you on a wide range of charges.
Attorney Brad Groene with the firm Luftman, Heck & Associates is a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer who has represented hundreds clients over the years and has worked hard to achieve the best possible outcome no matter the situation. Contact Luftman, Heck & Associates to get the help that you need. Call (513) 338-1890 to set up a free and confidential consultation.