|August 29, 2006
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist announced that two Hillsborough County men were arrested today for their participation in an identity theft scheme that defrauded gas stations in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. William Mantilla-Rodriguez and his brother, Lien Mantilla-Rodriguez, are accused of operating a theft ring that stole nearly $10,000 from 17 gas stations in four months.
Investigators discovered that William Mantilla-Rodriguez, 33, and Lien, 32, used counterfeit credit cards containing stolen personal identification information from 10 victims. The credit cards were used to steal gas from commercial gas stations by pumping diesel fuel into fuel bladders concealed in modified pick-up trucks. The scheme was uncovered through a covert investigation jointly conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the St. Petersburg Police Department’s Intelligence Division. The men, both Tampa residents, will be prosecuted by Crist’s Office of Statewide Prosecution. A third co-conspirator is still at large.
"These kinds of thieves target their victims by using the good name of law-abiding citizens," said Crist. "Supported by our tougher identity theft laws, we will continue to prosecute those who commit this form of unarmed robbery."
"Concerned citizens are our first line of defense when it comes to reporting suspicious activity. I encourage citizens to continue to report suspicious activity." said Maj. Eric Wells with the St. Petersburg Police Department, who credited a citizen’s complaint as the source that began the initial investigation.
Investigators believe that once the men stole the diesel fuel, they would then resell it to facilities that fueled tractor trailers. The investigation is still ongoing.
Each of the men is charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud and one count of fraudulent use of personal information. If convicted on both charges, each faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $15,000.
Copies of the criminal charges to be filed against the men are available online at the following links:
William Mantilla-Rodriguez: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/KGRG-6T5PRE/$file/William_Mantilla-Rodriguez_Information.pdf
Lien Mantilla-Rodriguez: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/KGRG-6T5PHW/$file/Lein_Mantilla-Rodriguez_Information.pdf