(Atlanta – May 31, 2002) Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced today that a guilty plea had been obtained in an Identity Fraud prosecution against Samantha Bius in Barrow County Superior Court. Bius pled guilty today to sixty felony counts, including racketeering, identity fraud, theft, theft by receiving and violations of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. The sentence handed down by Judge David Mote of the Piedmont Judicial Circuit was for thirteen years imprisonment, to be followed by twenty-seven years of probation. In addition, as a condition of her plea bargain with the Attorney General’s office, Bius has agreed to provide testimony against her former associates for their role in the identity theft ring.
Attorney General Baker, in announcing the plea and sentence, stated, “My office will continue to aggressively pursue and convict those who steal an innocent person’s identity. I want to ensure that the only business these people operate in the future will be making license plates in one of our more scenic prisons.”
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 ring charged to date 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.