MO: Business Owner Pleads Guilty After Customers’ Information is Stolen in Bank Fraud Scheme
Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced yesterday that a former business owner in Sparta, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in allowing his customers’ information to be stolen and used to promote a bank fraud scheme that used stolen mail and fake identifications to cash nearly $160,000 in fraudulent checks in Webster County, Mo., and elsewhere.
James Erin Guerin, also known as “Shorty,” 41, of Tulsa, Okla., formerly of Sparta, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to being an accessory after the fact to aggravated identity theft.
Guerin was the owner of Rogersville Septic Services, LLC.
Co-defendant Phillip Daren Shockey, 50, of Crawford, Ark., was released from federal custody in Arkansas on July 31, 2013. Guerin paid Shockey’s $5,000 bond and Shockey was mandated to live with Guerin in Sparta. Shockey, who had been in federal custody in Arkansas for wire fraud, began to create fictitious financial documents using bank accounts and routing numbers of legitimate customers of Guerin’s plumbing business.
Shockey and those working at his direction passed and attempted to pass approximately 51 fraudulent checks for a loss of at least $159,842.
In August and September 2013, Guerin became aware that Shockey had taken the bank account and routing numbers from his plumbing business customers and was using them to produce fictitious financial documents such as bogus checks drawn upon the customers’ bank accounts. After learning of Shockey’s use of his customers’ bank accounts, Guerin continued to provide comfort and assistance to Shockey. Shockey was given sanctuary at Guerin’s residence to continue his illegal operation.
Shockey pleaded guilty on Jan. 14, 2015. Shockey admitted that he was the leader of the conspiracy to defraud more than a dozen banks from July 31, 2013, to Feb. 28, 2014, by passing counterfeited and forged checks with fake identification documents. At least 12 co-conspirators stole mail, printed counterfeit checks, passed counterfeit checks with fake identification and opened at least five fictitious businesses for the sole purpose of concealing the deposit and subsequent withdrawal of counterfeit checks.
Shockey recruited co-conspirators to steal mail and act as “check runners” who used false identity documents in order to cash fraudulent checks drawn upon the accounts of bank customers. Shockey possessed computers, printers, scanners, cell phones, thumb drives, stolen mail and software in order to produce fraudulent identification and checks for his co-conspirators. Shockey also used false identifications of the banks’ customers and others in order to pass and attempt to pass fraudulent checks.
Guerin is the final defendant to plead guilty in this case. Michael Anthony Spears, 36, of Fort Smith, Ark., was sentenced to seven years in federal prison without parole. Donald Allen Spears, 34, of Columbia, Mo., was sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison without parole. Laura Goines, 32, of Tulsa, was sentenced to time served. Amanda Brook Roberts, 30, of Tulsa, also has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.
Under federal statutes, Guerin is subject to a sentence of up to one year in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $100,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Financial Crimes Task Force, the U.S. Postal Service – Criminal Investigations, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Tulsa, Okla., Police Department, the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Webster County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the Blue Springs, Mo., Police Department, the Monett, Mo., Police Department, the Pierce City, Mo., Police Department, the St. Clair County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Rolla, Mo., Police Department and the Catoosa, Okla., Police Department.
SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Missouri