Marine reservist pleads guilty to identity theft

01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, August 5, 2008

By Michael P. McKinney Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — A Marine reservist from Providence pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing another Marine’s identity information at training camp and opening accounts in that Marine’s name — a scheme that began unraveling when a collection agency contacted the mother of the victim while he was on a six-month deployment in Iraq.

Daniel Tejeda, 21, also pleaded guilty before Judge Mary M. Lisi in U.S. District Court, Providence, to robbing a Sovereign Bank in December, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente’s office.

Prosecutor Milind M. Shah said at the plea hearing that the government could show that in 2005, while Tejeda was training as a reservist with the Marines at Parris Island, S.C., he lifted a fellow Marine’s wallet to get identity information, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

After returning to Rhode Island, Tejeda used the other Marine’s identity to open accounts at the Navy Federal Credit Union and with T-Mobile.

Tejeda obtained $3,500 in credit and loans in April 2006 from the Navy Federal Credit Union. He deposited a worthless check in the credit union account and took out about $1,600 against it before the credit union determined it was worthless.

In September 2006, the Marine whose identity information was taken was deployed to Iraq for six months. In December 2006, a collection agency contacted his mother for payment on a past-due T-Mobile account issued in the victim’s name.

She called the New York State Police, which traced the account to a Bellevue Avenue address in Providence, and contacted the U.S. Secret Service in Providence. A Secret Service investigation led to Tejeda, who was living at the Bellevue Avenue address linked to the T-Mobile and the credit union accounts, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Providence police and the FBI, in a separate probe, came up with evidence that last December Tejeda went to a Sovereign Bank branch on Elmwood Avenue, Providence, and tried to withdraw money from an account he claimed to have. After several unsuccessful attempts to do so, Tejeda left the bank, but came back a short while later and handed a teller a threatening note demanding money.

The teller handed him $5,993, and Tejeda fled the bank.

Tejeda has been detained pending a scheduled Nov. 14 sentencing.

The maximum penalty for identity theft is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum for bank robbery is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.