PHILADELPHIA – The last member of a gang of identity fraud conspirators was sentenced to 33 months in prison Tuesday along with paying more than $72,000 in restitution after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Custom’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and other federal and local law enforcement partners.
The federal judge also ordered Brandon Jones, 34, from Reading, Pennsylvania, five years of supervised release and a $300 special assessment. Jones pleaded guilty on May 15, 2015 to conspiracy, wire fraud and bank fraud and admitted his participated in an identity fraud scheme that involved stealing personal information, including from old court records.
The fraud gang’s ringleader, Damian Gasdaska, was sentenced in May 2015 to 12 years in prison. Jones is the last of the five defendants in the case to be sentenced. Co-conspirator Randall McMahon, of Easton, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in June of 2015 to 29 months; John Cordero, of Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in June of 2015 to 18 months; and Johnnie Rhines, of Lindenwold, New Jersey, was sentenced in March of 2015 to 30 months.
The defendants used stolen information to create false identities, which they then used to apply for credit cards and for purchasing or renting vehicles. Gasdaska provided some of the fraudulent credit cards he acquired to his co-conspirators and kept some for himself. He also showed his co-conspirators how to commit the fraud. The ring leader took steps to create favorable credit profiles for these false identities, and to improve the individuals’ credit profiles.
These steps included: obtaining reports on the individuals, requesting the modification of information in the reports, and engaging in transactions in the names of the false identities to improve their credit profiles. The defendants applied for loans in the name of the false identities for which Gasdaska had improved their credit profiles. The defendants secured fraudulent loans exceeding $200,000 to buy cars under false pretenses. They collectively purchased or attempted to purchase at least 15 different vehicles.
Gasdaska used U.S. Post Office boxes in the name of the false identities to receive mail for various purposes, such as in connection with credit card applications. He used computers at public libraries to further the conspiracy. After the defendants made their purchases, they often provided the purchased items to Gasdaska who then sold them and paid the co-conspirators for their illegal services.
When Gasdaska and McMahon were arrested in January 2013, Gasdaska was driving a car he had purchased through his fraud scheme that was filled with fraudulent documentation Gasdaska had generated and received during his scheme. In January of 2000, Jones was arrested while driving the car that he purchased through the scheme.
The case was investigated by HSI, U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Lehigh County Auto Theft and Insurance Fraud Task Force. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Murray.