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ORC 10-29-15




New Jersey couple plead guilty to scamming Kohl's Cash rewards program; $587,526 in restitution
A New Jersey couple pleaded guilty Wednesday to defrauding the Kohl's Cash rewards program of nearly $600,000 by creating a computer program to steal cash certificate numbers belonging to customers, according to court documents filed in federal court. Pavan Gurram and Vanaja Gattupalli, who are originally from India, pleaded guilty to fraud in federal court before U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on Wednesday. Their sentencing is set for January. Gurram, as the mastermind of the fraud, is facing more prison time, about a decade in prison based on sentencing guidelines. But his plea agreement says if he cooperates fully, the prosecutor could recommend a sentence below the guidelines. That includes helping the government locate all the assets purchased with the stolen money including in overseas accounts, where some money was deposited. Gurram also agreed to pay $587,526 in restitution. Gattupalli is less culpable than her husband, according to documents, and prosecutors will recommend a sentence of less than a year.

Carmel, CA: Gang members sentenced for $170,000 Armed Robbery
of Carmel jewelry store
Three gang members who admitted robbing a jewelry store in Carmel were sentenced to prison Tuesday. Miguel Jimenez, 24, Leonel Ramirez, 19, and Omar Vasquez, 18, all of Castroville, admitted the Nov. 16, 2013, robbery of La Renaissance Jewelers was committed for the benefit of the NorteƱo gang. All three men pleaded guilty to three counts each of kidnapping, robbery and assault with a firearm with additional allegations involving weapons use and gang enhancements. Judge Carrie Panetta sentenced Jimenez 25 years, Vasquez was sentenced to 20 years and Ramirez to 10 years. All of the stolen property, including over $170,000 worth of jewelry, was recovered from the robbers' vehicle.

Laredo, TX: Cargo Thief arrested with $160,000 worth of Air Conditioners
A man has been arrested for stealing $160,000 in air conditioning units, according to Laredo police. The suspect, Pedro Rocha, 20, claimed that a man he identified as "El Padrino" threatened his family if he did not get involved in the cargo theft, reports state.

Milburn, NJ: Abercrombie & Fitch in Short Hills the victim
of a $1,200 Fragrance theft
A theft report drew police to the mall's Abercrombie store Oct. 20. Store personnel reported a male described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, bald, with a black jacket and jeans, concealed 15 men's fragrances valued at $1,236 in a bag and left the store without making payment.

Perkins Twp, OH: Two people were arrested following a theft spree in Perkins Township
Police said Melony Beck, 33, and Michael Craig, 37, stole from multiple stores, including Sears and Kohl's. Their shoplifting plot also involved a 12-year-old girl, who police said would fill Beck's purse. Officers also found narcotics on Beck and Craig, according to the Perkins Township Police Department. The girl was taken to the Erie County Detention Home, then released to a grandparent.

Lemon Grove, CA: Couple arrested in Home Depot credit card frauds
A man and woman suspected of using fake credit cards at Home Depots across the state were arrested at a Lemon Grove hotel on Wednesday. The man had used a fraudulent credit card to buy goods at Home Depot in Lemon Grove, sheriff's financial crimes unit Sgt. Joe Ellis said. He said a store security guard watch the man walk next door to an Econo Lodge Hotel and go into a room about 9:30 a.m. Deputies went to the room and contacted the 30-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman. As the deputies searched the room, Ellis said, they found several credit and ID cards, methampetamine, drug paraphernalia and a stolen handgun. A machine to make fake cards and property stolen from other stores were found in the couple's car. He said the couple is suspected of numerous similar credit card frauds at Home Depot stores throughout California.

Anchorage, AK: Leader of mail theft ring, nicknamed 'Superman,'
sentenced to 14 years
According to prosecutors, 45 year-old Jonathan Ortiz Escalante, known also as "Superman," was the leader of a mail theft ring in Anchorage that exchanged methamphetamine for stolen mail, checks and identification cards. According to the January indictment, Escalante would solicit drug addicts and homeless people in Anchorage to steal mail and break into vehicles. He would then use stolen credit cards and other personal information to make purchases and cash fraudulent checks, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Lee Co, FL: 2 Miami credit card cloners targeting Lee County arrested
Lee County Sheriff's Office put an end to the shopping spree of two Miami credit card cloners that were targeting Lee County Tuesday afternoon. Juan Carlos Alfonso-Gonzalez, 26, and Manuel Rico Luy-Rico, 26, were charged and arrested with 11 counts of counterfeit credit card possession and 11 counts of possession of personal identificaiton without consent. When the sheriff got to the car, he noticed a large number of newly purchased gift cards and other merchandise inside the vehicle. He also saw that the two men had a history of identity theft-related crimes on his record.

ORC 10-29-15
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