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Attorney General Baker Announces Guilty Plea From Member of Identity Theft Crime Ring

PRESS ADVISORY

Attorney General Baker Announces Guilty Plea From Member of Identity Theft Crime Ring

April 17, 2002

(Atlanta – April 17, 2002) Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced today that a guilty plea had been obtained in an Identity Fraud prosecution against Travis Carroll in Walton County Superior Court. Carroll pled guilty last Thursday to nineteen counts of felony theft by taking and one of count of Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act for methamphetamine. The sentence handed down by Judge Marvin Sorrells of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit was for eight years imprisonment on each count, with all sentences to run concurrently. In addition, as a condition of his plea bargain with the Attorney General’s office, Carroll has agreed to plead guilty to racketeering in Barrow County Superior Court where charges are currently pending against Carroll and other members of his crime ring. Carroll has also agreed to provide testimony against his former associates for their role in the identity theft ring in Barrow County and any other county in which indictments are brought against his former partners in crime.

Attorney General Baker, in announcing the plea and sentence, stated, “We will continue to pursue and convict those who assume an innocent person’s identity to steal from that person’s good name. Crime rings that operate in Georgia are on notice; ruining the good credit of Georgia’s citizens will not be tolerated while I am Attorney General. Steal from Georgia’s citizens, and you will end up paying them back in the prison laundry.”

The crime ring engaged in a massive identity fraud operation spanning more than two years and encompassing at least a dozen counties. Members of the crime ring are accused of stealing thousands of pieces of mail from residential and business mailboxes from the South Carolina border to Metro Atlanta. The ring used personal identification data obtained from the stolen mail to create fake drivers' licenses. Members of the ring then used the fake licenses to open credit accounts, bank accounts, and charge accounts in their victims’. Currently, the state is aware of well over a hundred citizens victimized by the accused.

The investigation started initially as several separate cases being handled by the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs, the Roswell Police Department, the Gwinnett County Police Department, the Suwannee Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspector. The Attorney General's Office consolidated all of these investigations into one case file when it became apparent that a single crime ring was responsible for this particular flood of criminal activity. In July 2001, a successful "sting" operation was conducted on one of the accused in Fulton County, which led to the arrest of members of the crime ring and the seeking of criminal indictments in multiple jurisdictions.

This is the largest identity fraud ring prosecuted to date by the Attorney General's Office. The prosecution was handled by Assistant Attorney General David McLaughlin.