Former California Assemblyman Admits Defrauding Banks out of $193,661 by Falsely Claiming to be Identity Theft Victim
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 21, 2013|
LOS ANGELES—Carl Edward Washington, a former California assemblyman who represented the state’s 52nd district, has agreed to plead guilty to federal bank fraud charges, admitting that he bilked financial institutions by falsely claiming to be the victim of identity theft.
As part of a plea agreement filed yesterday in United States District Court, Washington agreed to plead guilty to three counts of bank fraud for causing losses of $193,661 to financial institutions that include Farmers and Merchants Bank, First City Credit Union, and LA Financial Credit Union.
Washington, 47, a resident of Paramount who currently is employed as a division chief with the Los Angeles County Probation Department, admitted in the plea agreement that during a lengthy scheme that ran through the summer of 2011, he defrauded the three banks by concealing several unpaid debts—debts that he simply stopped paying—and his overall lack of creditworthiness.
Washington was able to hide his bad debts by filing a series of bogus police reports with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in which he falsely claimed to be the victim of identity theft. After filing the false police reports, Washington sent copies of the reports to the credit reporting agency Experian and demanded that the information relating to the bad debts be removed from his credit report. Once Experian removed this data from his credit report, Washington submitted applications for new credit cards to the victim banks, applications that failed to disclose all of his outstanding debts and the fact that he had negative information reported by other financial institutions removed from his credit report. Once the victim banks issued new credit cards to Washington, he purchased goods and services. But, after making several payments, Washington contacted Experian and, claiming that he was the victim of identity theft, requested that information related to the new credit cards be removed from his credit report. Washington admitted filing five false police reports with LASD.
Washington’s scheme was exposed when he attempted to refinance two auto loans through LA Financial. When the credit union examined Washington’s credit report, it discovered that the auto loans it had previously issued were not showing up on his credit report. LA Financial subsequently learned from Experian that Washington disputed he had earlier sought to refinance his auto loans and that he claimed to be a victim of identity theft. Because LA Financial knew Washington’s claims were false, it froze Washington’s credit card account and reported him to authorities.
Washington was elected to the California legislature in 1996 and he served in the assembly until 2002. Washington later went to work for the Los Angeles County Probation Department, where he ran a unit called Intergovernmental Relations and Legislative Affairs. Washington has been on administrative leave from the Probation Department since his arrest in this case in September.
Washington is scheduled to enter his guilty pleas on Monday before United States District Judge S. James Otero. Once he pleads guilty, Washington will face a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each of the three bank fraud counts. However, the parties have agreed that the United States Sentencing Guidelines call for a term of imprisonment of one year to 18 months. The actual sentence will be determined by Judge Otero later this year.
The case against Washington was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Public Corruption Squad.
Assistant United States Attorney Douglas M. Miller
Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section