|June 9, 2006
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that two Polk County residents have pled guilty to identity theft stemming from their involvement in an operation that forged driver’s licenses and stole more than $12,000 from Central Florida businesses.
An investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement revealed that Paul Shell, 38, and Katrina Finley, 35, both of Lakeland, manufactured counterfeit Florida driver’s licenses and checks in names that belonged to both real and fictitious individuals. The majority of the fake IDs and checks were made on a home computer and printer. The pair then presented the checks to various stores and check-cashing facilities throughout the Central Florida area, resulting in losses to the businesses of more than $12,000.
"Identity theft is not only a robbery, it also tarnishes their good names of law abiding citizens," said Crist. "We are pleased to have worked with the Legislature to pass the tougher sentencing law in 2003 that will guide the sentencing in this case."
The two were arrested in June 2005 after Shell attempted to use a forged check at a Zephyrhills Wal-Mart. Store employees recognized the name on the check as one that had been used previously in conjunction with bogus checks at the same store, and called authorities. After Shell was arrested, he told authorities that the checks had been printed at his Lakeland home. When investigators arrived at the home, they encountered Finley, who confessed to her involvement and was arrested.
Shell and Finley pled guilty to charges of criminal use of personal identification information, a second-degree felony, and scheme to defraud, a third-degree felony. A third co-conspirator, Ronald Olson, pled guilty in March and agreed to cooperate with investigators. Finley was sentenced to a mandatory three years in prison followed by three years of probation. Shell and Olson will be sentenced at a later date.
A copy of the criminal charges filed against Shell are available at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-6QKHYQ/$file/Shell_Information.pdf
A copy of the criminal charges filed against Finley are available at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-6QKHXM/$file/Finley_Information.pdf