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Identity Thief Heads to Prison

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 38-year-old resident of Luling has been sentenced in Corpus Christi federal court for identity theft, announced Acting United States Attorney Abe Martinez. Joey Ornelas, 38, pleaded guilty May 26, 2017.
 
Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos imposed a mandatory 24-month prison term to be immediately followed by one year of supervised release. At He was further ordered to pay nearly $4,000 in restitution.
During a traffic stop, authorities observed what they believed to be a counterfeit driver’s license. The license bore the name and driver’s license number of another person but displayed Ornelas’ photograph. Law enforcement conducted a search of his vehicle and discovered more than 20 additional counterfeit Texas Driver’s licenses. They also found fraudulent checks with names matching those on the counterfeit licenses but bearing the account and routing numbers of other individuals. Some of the checks and identities were linked to previous fraudulent purchases from around the state.
Also in his vehicle was equipment to produce high quality counterfeit checks including magnetic inks along with materials for creating fraudulent Texas driver’s licenses needed to pass counterfeit checks. Authorities determined Ornelas was receiving photographs of authentic driver’s licenses of unsuspecting victims from co-conspirators which he would use in the production of the counterfeit licenses.            
At the time of his guilty plea, Ornelas admitted he had knowingly used the identification of others to facilitate the commission of his crimes.   
 
He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
 
The Secret Service conducted the investigation with the assistance of the George West Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr. is prosecuting the case.

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