|July 31, 2006
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that a Hillsborough County man was convicted and immediately sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role as ringleader of an identity theft and counterfeit check operation. Dwayne King was found guilty of leading a group that stole at least $162,000 from Florida victims.
Prosecutors with Crist’s Office of Statewide Prosecution proved that King, 25, was responsible for using the bank account numbers of at least 8 Florida residents to print blank checks. The checks were then used to purchase merchandise at various department stores across Florida. Once King and his co-defendants obtained the items, they traveled to other locations and returned the merchandise for cash refunds. King’s direct actions resulted in a loss of more than $14,000, although the entire ring was accused of stealing more than $162,225 from more than 45 victims.
"Identity theft is a crime that steals both money and an individual’s good name," said Crist. "We will continue to pursue those who commit this crime of unarmed robbery."
King was arrested in May 2004 by authorities with the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Sheriffs Offices. Both agencies conducted the investigation, with assistance from the Office of Statewide Prosecution. He was sentenced last week by Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Barbara Fleischer.
Most of King’s co-defendants have already entered guilty pleas and many have received sentences. Toqulada Christopher, 30, and Larry Williams, 34, pled guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to commit organized fraud and identity theft; Williams was sentenced to three years in prison, and Christopher will be sentenced at a later date. Christopher’s mother, Patricia Williams, 55, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit organized fraud and was sentenced to one year in prison. Tequitha Foster, 27, Kizzy Peoples, 27, and Ashley Mobley, 22, each received five years probation after pleading guilty last year to conspiracy to commit organized fraud. A seventh co-defendant, Antonio Russ, 30, was a fugitive for two years but was recently arrested and will go to trial soon.
A copy of the original charges filed against King is available at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/KGRG-6S5JMD/$file/King_Information.pdf