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Financial Crimes

Conspirator indicted in bank fraud scheme

Allegedly used his employment with a residential mental health program to steal identity information of clients to open fraudulent bank accounts for personal use

BALTIMORE – A federal grand jury Tuesday indicted Derrick Elrod, 35, of Philadelphia, Pa. in connection with a bank fraud scheme to use stolen, personal identifying information to open bank accounts and fraudulently obtain cash, merchandise and services.

The indictment follows an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Wicomico County Sheriff's office; the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and, the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division.

Elrod worked for Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD), a nonprofit social services organization headquartered in Philadelphia. Elrod served as an advisor at a residential program that supports individuals with mental health needs.

According to the five-count indictment, from December 2008 through Dec. 22, 2011, Elrod stole the personal identifying information of past or present residents of RHD. He provided the information to co-conspirators Christopher Andre Devine, 33 of Salisbury, Md.; Quanishia Williamson-Ross, 31, of Frederica, Del.; Quashonna Williamson, 26; Lenee E. Williamson, 22, and John Waters, 38, all of Philadelphia. In related cases, all co-conspirators pleaded guilty to their participation in the conspiracy and are pending sentencing in March.

In Maryland, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Elrod and his conspirators allegedly used the stolen information to open accounts at banks, which Elrod's conspirators then controlled. Elrod's conspirators allegedly deposited fraudulent checks into the accounts and obtained check cards, then used the associated check cards at ATM machines to make cash withdrawals from the accounts.

The indictment further alleges that Elrod's conspirators made fraudulent identification documents using the stolen personal information, with photographs of Devine, Williamson-Ross and Lenee Williamson, which they used, along with the check cards, to make purchases at retail stores, later returning the purchased items for cash.

The indictment further alleges that Elrod's conspirators also used the check cards to obtain services, such as utilities, cable and cell phone service, and make purchases for their personal benefit at restaurants, drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations and video rentals and other businesses. Elrod and his conspirators allegedly would not pay for the services and merchandise, and the banks suffered a loss when the fraudulent checks deposited by the defendants were returned as unpaid.

Elrod faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the bank fraud conspiracy and two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, on each of three counts of aggravated identity theft. No court appearance has been scheduled.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and Kristi N. O'Malley.