California-Based Identity Theft and Bank Fraud Ringleader Sentenced
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 23, 2009|
GRAND RAPIDS, MI—United States Attorney Donald A. Davis announced the sentencing on December 21 of Alonzo Lamar Holloway, 44, of Oakland, California, on a four-count Indictment that charged him with bank fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and with conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and identity theft. Holloway, who is one of 16 defendants from Oakland charged in a long-running investigation conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker to serve 11 years in Federal prison, to pay restitution of almost $700,000, and to serve five years of supervised release following his eventual discharge from prison.
Of the 16 defendants, 11 have been convicted, two are fugitives, and three are pending trial. The convicted defendants include a former Bank of America (BOA) employee from Oakland, Mocha M. Aldridge, 31, who assisted the fraud ring by selling account information and personal identifying information of BOA account holders, information that was then used to make fraudulent high-value cash withdrawals from BOA branches across the United States between 2007 and 2009, including in the Western District of Michigan. The case, which is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, began on January 9, 2009, when employees of a BOA branch in Wyoming notified the Wyoming Police Department that a person had just attempted to make a large cash withdrawal under suspicious circumstances. Wyoming officers responded within minutes and arrested four suspects as they were driving away from the bank branch—Holloway; Shawncy McGowan, 26; Kamillah Brown, 33; and Kirk Usher, 51, all of whom were Oakland residents. All four have since been convicted. Members of the Metropolitan Fraud and Identity Theft Team (MFITT), working out of the Wyoming Police Department under the direction of Chief James Carmody, began the investigation, notifying the Grand Rapids office of the U.S. Secret Service within hours of the arrests when they developed evidence indicating that the activity under investigation reached well beyond Grand Rapids.
In imposing the sentence, Judge Jonker commented on Holloway’s leadership role in the fraud, the large scope and geographic reach of the activity, the significant financial loss associated with the crimes, and the need to deter others from committing identity theft and related financial crimes.
U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis commended the Holloway investigation and prosecution, noting that its success was the result of a cooperative effort between the Wyoming Police Department and the Secret Service that led to the destruction of the long-running fraud scheme, a scheme that lasted as long as it did because it spread its activities across many different states, which made it more difficult to identify, arrest, and prosecute those responsible. Davis also noted that his office is in the process of establishing an Identity Theft Working Group, with the participation of numerous Federal law enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service, the FBI, U.S. ICE, and others, along with the Michigan State Police and numerous Sheriff’s and Police Departments, that will focus on investigating and prosecuting identity theft and related financial frauds.
That Working Group is being led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen W. Frank, who is also prosecuting the Holloway defendants. According to Frank, “The goal of the Working Group is to make sure that identity thieves come to view Western Michigan as their Bermuda Triangle—someplace they don’t want to stay in, come to, drive through, or fly over. Oakland, California ID-thieves are learning that lesson, and we want to help other ID thieves learn it as well.”