A former officer with the New York City Police Department was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 28 months in prison for credit card fraud and identity theft. John Montanez, 28, of the Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty in August 2014 to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In addition to his prison term, he was sentenced to two years of supervised release, and was ordered to forfeit $2,500, and pay a $200 special assessment.
In a press release issued yesterday, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:
“While a Police Officer, John Montanez engaged in credit card fraud and identity theft. As Montanez said on tape, ‘I am not the cop you think I am.’ For certain, he was not the cop the public deserved and not one who deserved to carry an NYPD badge. By breaking the law, John Montanez not only threatened the safety of others, but also undermined the position of law enforcement as a pursuer of justice. We will continue to actively prosecute cases of police corruption.”
According to the Complaint, Information, prior filings, and yesterday’s proceeding:
In 2011, an individual, who subsequently agreed to cooperate with law enforcement (the “CW”), informed MONTANEZ, who was at the time a police officer with the NYPD, that the CW had a suspended and/or revoked driver’s license. In response, MONTANEZ offered to provide the CW with the name and driver’s license number of a real person – so that if the CW were stopped by law enforcement, the CW could pretend to be someone else – in return for items that the CW would purchase for MONTANEZ with fraudulently obtained or stolen credit cards. After that, in return for the CW purchasing merchandise for MONTANEZ, and providing to MONTANEZ credit card/debit card numbers that MONTANEZ understood were stolen or fraudulently obtained, MONTANEZ provided to the CW multiple names, dates of birth, and driver’s license identification numbers of other people. One such person, referred to in the Complaint as “Victim-1,” was a fellow police officer with the NYPD, serving in the same precinct as MONTANEZ.
The CW was arrested in June 2013 and later began recording meetings with MONTANEZ as part of the CW’s cooperation with law enforcement. During these meetings, MONTANEZ offered to provide additional identities to the CW in return for merchandise purchased with credit cards that MONTANEZ believed the CW had stolen or fraudulently obtained. In one recorded meeting, MONTANEZ said to the CW: “I am not the cop you think I am. I am a piece of s***.”
In connection with MONTANEZ’s arrest, law enforcement executed a search of his apartment and of his locker at his precinct. The search of the apartment yielded, among other things, identification documents in other names and a device allowing for the swiping of a credit/debit card. The search of the locker yielded 16 identification documents in other names, including driver’s licenses, benefits cards, and Social Security cards. The identification documents obtained from the search of the locker appeared to come from arrests that MONTANEZ effected or participated in throughout the course of his career as a police officer.
MONTANEZ, 28, of the Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty in August 2014 to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In addition to his prison term, he was sentenced to two years of supervised release, and was ordered to forfeit $2,500, and pay a $200 special assessment.