Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of GERALD SPEARS, 40, to 4-to-12 years in state prison for facilitating and participating in an identity theft, credit card forgery, and check cashing operation that resulted in more than $50,000 in fraud. On August 14, 2015, SPEARS pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Identity Theft in the First Degree, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.
“As identity theft becomes increasingly common, there is no limit to the times or ways in which a person can be victimized,” said District Attorney Vance. “Identity thieves often sell stolen information to other cybercriminals, or use it to commit additional crimes. In this case, the defendants used it to carry out a number of schemes. I encourage individuals to take precautions against fraud and monitor their financial statements for any suspicious activity.”
According to his guilty plea and documents filed in court, in the summer of 2013, SPEARS provided a separately convicted co-defendant, IESHA JACKSON, with a skimming device to steal customers’ information at the Hale & Hearty restaurant in Manhattan where JACKSON was employed. Between July and September, JACKSON admitted to skimming as many as 20 cards a day before returning the device to SPEARS, who shared the stolen credit card information with a separately charged co-defendant, LEONCE CUNNINGHAM, who helped SPEARS and another separately convicted co-defendant, SAMUEL SANTANA, obtain forged credit cards containing the stolen information.
SPEARS and several other separately convicted co-defendants used the forged credit cards to make more than $90,000 in fraudulent purchases of jewelry, designer clothes, and electronics, as well as cash advances at a casino. The defendants also unsuccessfully attempted to make additional charges totaling more than $100,000 using the forged credit cards.
In addition, between March 2013 and April 2014, SPEARS created counterfeit checks drawn on victims’ accounts and made them payable to himself and others, who cashed more than $50,000 worth of counterfeit checks.
Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Roper and Tracy Conn, Deputy Chiefs of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, handled the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Brenda Fischer, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Investigator Mariangela Perrotta, former Investigator Jason Malone, Supervising Investigator Robert Muldoon, and Cyber Intelligence Analyst Stephen Moccia, and former Cybercrime Analyst Nora DeSimone provided additional assistance with the case.
District Attorney Vance also thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Special Agent Danny Lee, as well as Hale & Hearty, for their assistance with the investigation.
GERALD SPEARS, D.O.B. 1/21/1975
- Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
- Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
- Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
- 4-to-12 years in state prison