(Atlanta – September 26, 2002) Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced today that guilty pleas had been obtained from the final two members of the Identity Theft crime ring operating out of northeast Georgia. John Maddox and Daryel Edwards pled guilty in Barrow County Superior Court today to felony counts of racketeering, identity fraud, theft, and theft by receiving. The sentence handed down by Judge David Mote of the Piedmont Judicial Circuit for Maddox was for thirteen years imprisonment, followed by seventeen years of probation. Edwards received a five year prison sentence, to be followed by ten years in prison. This was on top of earlier sentences handed down against Samantha Bius, the ringleader of the syndicate, and Travis Carroll, who were the remaining two members of the crime ring that were charged by the Attorney General’s office. Bius received a thirteen year prison sentence, to be followed by twenty-seven years on probation, while Carroll received an eight year prison sentence to be followed by twenty years on probation.
Attorney General Baker, in announcing the pleas and sentences, stated, “My office will continue to aggressively prosecute those who steal an innocent person’s identity. No Georgia citizen should have to worry about their good name being stolen by fraud artists. The sentences received by these criminals will send the message that this type of crime will not be tolerated on my watch.”
The crime ring engaged in a massive identity fraud operation spanning more than two years and encompassing at least a dozen counties. The members of the crime ring were charged with 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 in Georgia. The prosecution was handled by Assistant Attorney General David McLaughlin.