BENTON, Ill. – An Oblong man and a Robinson woman were sentenced to prison in a U.S. District Court this week after admitting to breaking into vehicles, stealing checks and IDs and committing identity theft in order to fraudulently obtain thousands of dollars from banks.
Zachary Patrick, 31, and Briana Blair, 31, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Patrick received a 60-month sentence with an additional five years of supervised release, and Blair received a 25-month sentence with an additional three years of supervised release.
“Committing identity theft threatens the financial security of victims,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “This couple disregarded the lives they were hurting, and I commend our law enforcement partners and investigators for bringing justice to the affected families.”
“FBI Springfield extends our appreciation to the Oblong Police Department and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for their excellent work which laid the foundation for significant charges in this case,” said Springfield Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Shannon Fontenot. “These sentences provide some justice for victims whose lives were turned upside down by criminals who stole personal information and used it for their own gain with no regard for the consequences of their actions.”
According to court documents, the couple stole checks and personal identifying information from multiple victims often by breaking into vehicles. The pair then used the victims’ information to write and deposit fraudulent checks, forge signatures and withdraw thousands of dollars as they traveled around eastern Illinois and western Indiana. In addition, they opened a bank account using one victim’s stolen information.
The pair was apprehended in a hotel parking lot in Brazil, Indiana, while breaking into a vehicle. Initially, the pair identified themselves to law enforcement using two of the identities they had previously stolen, but eventually admitted to their true identities. Law enforcement officers recovered several stolen IDs, credit cards and documents with financial information from victims.
The sentencing judge noted the severity of committing identity theft and highlighted the devastating impact and ongoing consequences for victims.
The FBI-Springfield led the investigation with assistance from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the Oblong Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Reed prosecuted the case.
originally published at HUMAN RIGHTS - USA DAILY NEWS 24