New York City Police Department Officer Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Fraud and Identity Theft Charges
Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JOHN L. MONTANEZ, a police officer with the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to credit card fraud and identity theft offenses. MONTANEZ, who was arrested late May 2014, entered his plea today before U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “John Montanez summed it up well when he told a cooperating witness ‘I am not the cop you think I am.’ In fact, he’s a criminal who dishonored himself, the NYPD and the public he serves, and by doing so, made every other honest police officer’s job that much harder. I want to thank the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau for working with my office to investigate, and snuff out, this conduct.”
According to the Complaint, Information, and today’s plea proceeding:
In 2011, an individual, who subsequently agreed to cooperate with law enforcement, and who is referred to in the case as the “CW,” informed MONTANEZ 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 in connection with 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/debit cards that MONTANEZ believed the CW had stolen or fraudulently obtained. In one recorded meeting, MONTANEZ observed to the CW: “I am not the cop you think I am. I am a piece of s***.”
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MONTANEZ, 28, of the Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum sentence of 17 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of two years. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
MONTANEZ is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Failla on January 14, 2015.
Mr. Bharara thanked the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, who worked with the CW to develop evidence implicating MONTANEZ and assisted in the prosecution. Mr. Bharara also praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel C. Richenthal is in charge of the prosecution.