Krista Lynn Martinez Pleads Guilty and Sentenced in U.S. Federal Court
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 29, 2012|
The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on October 29, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan, Krista Lynn Martinez, a 32-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty and was sentenced on charges of five counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Martinez was sentenced to a term of:
- Prison: 30 months
- Special assessment: $600
- Supervised release: three years
- Restitution: $9,116.46
In an offer of proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Martinez worked for Ashley Lamere at a telemarketing company Lamere owned and operated called Base Suppliers. Martinez also lived with Lamere. From approximately January 18, 2011 through at least February 20, 2012, Lamere, Martinez, and others participated in a scheme to create fake payroll checks and cash said payroll checks at Walmarts around the United States, including Billings. As part of the scheme, Martinez and others obtained Social Security account numbers from individuals by posting fraudulent “Help Wanted” advertisements on Craigslist. Individuals would call about the job posting and be asked to provide their Social Security numbers for background checks and prehiring paperwork. Individuals were also asked whether they had ever used the check cashing services offered by Walmart. Once an individual uses the check cashing system once, all that is needed is the Social Security number to cash future checks—photo identification was not required. If an individual had previously used the check cashing services their Social Security number was written down and used by Lamere, Martinez and others to cash the fraudulent checks.
Lamere retained a portion of all the checks cashed by Martinez and others involved in the scheme.
On April 25, 2012, Martinez confessed to assisting Lamere with this counterfeit check cashing scheme. Martinez specifically confessed to the FBI and IRS (CID) to knowingly cashing five counterfeit checks with and/or for Lamere at the Walmarts in Billings utilizing other individuals’ Social Security numbers. Walmart confirmed that each of the five transactions utilized interstate wires to clear. The transactions sent a signal from Billings to St. Petersburg, Florida, or Chicago, Illinois. The transactions included a check on January 28, 2012, at a Walmart in Billings, Montana, in which Martinez used the Social Security number assigned to an individual by the initials of M.P. to cash check number 63312. The check was a fake and utilized interstate wires to complete the transaction.
Information obtained from Walmart indicates Lamere, Martinez, and others cashed at least 180 counterfeit checks around the United States with the total loss to Walmart exceeding $200,000.
Lamere pled guilty to wire fraud and bribery of a government official and is awaiting sentencing.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the “truth in sentencing” guidelines mandate that Martinez will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Martinez does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for “good behavior.” However, this reduction will not exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additionally, the following investigative agencies assisted with the larger wire fraud and bribery of a government official investigation: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Navy Criminal Investigation Service, General Services Administration-Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense-Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, Air Force Criminal Investigation Division, and the Army Criminal Investigation Division.