Four plead guilty to stealing cash from victims’ bank accounts, identity theft

The last of four Minnesotans pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in St. Paul to operating an identity theft ring involving the creation of fraudulent identification cards and checks that were eventually cashed at businesses and banks in three states.

Appearing before United States District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank, Christopher Englin, age 28, of Detroit Lakes, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud, one count of identity theft, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Englin was indicted, along with three co-defendants, on June 8, 2010. Those co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to their roles in the operation.

In their plea agreements, the defendants admitted that from September 1, 2007, through April 30, 2008, they executed a scheme that involved stealing personal information from between 10 and 50 victims and using that information to manufacture false identification cards and fraudulent checks. Those items were then used at various locations in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin to obtain cash. Englin and Shaw admitted that they stole mail from victims and used the personal information obtained from that mail to make the false
identification material.

The scheme resulted in a total estimated loss of between $70,000 and $120,000.

For their crimes, the defendants face a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on the conspiracy charge, 30 years on each bank fraud charge, 15 years on the possession of a document-making implement charge, and five years on the identity theft charge. Englin and Shaw also face a mandatory minimum penalty of two years in prison on each aggravated identity theft charge. Judge Frank will determine their sentences at future hearings, yet to be scheduled.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota

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