|August 25, 2006
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that a Polk County woman was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to participating in organized scheme to defraud and also to identity theft. Jeri Lynn Caruthers was part of an identity theft ring that operated throughout Central Florida, stealing more than $70,000 in six months.
Caruthers, 31, and five co-conspirators obtained personal identification information, including bank account and routing numbers, from stolen mail. Members of the ring then used the information to open credit card accounts and create counterfeit checks and Florida driver's licenses. They used the cards and checks throughout Central Florida to obtain cash and merchandise worth more than $70,000.
"Identity theft ruins its victims’ good names and reputations," said Crist. "Those who steal something so valuable in the name of others must pay the consequences."
More than 20 victims had their personal identification information stolen by the ring. Caruthers was arrested last December following an investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. All of the members of the ring were prosecuted by Crist’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
Caruthers pled guilty to charges of organized scheme to defraud and criminal use of personal identification information, both first-degree felonies. In addition to the five-year prison sentence, she must serve five years of probation. Co-defendants Kendra Hutchinson and Amanda Smith previously pled guilty to similar charges but will be sentenced at a later date. Charges are still pending against Amelya Smith, Amanda Prine and Michael Shane Campbell. Caruthers’ sentence was handed down yesterday by 10th Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance.
A copy of the criminal information filed against Caruthers is available at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-6SYPUR/$file/Caruthers_Information.pdf