April 14, 2006
Hillsboro, Mo. — A Miami, Fla., man and his niece who allegedly were part of a multi-state identity theft ring are the latest defendants to face criminal charges filed by Attorney General Jay Nixon and local Missouri prosecutors.
Nixon and Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Wilkins today filed two counts each of identity theft against Sam Berry (DOB - 9/16/57) and Shante (Shon-TAY) Berry (DOB - 1/22/80), also of Miami. The two are charged with using the identity of a Festus woman to purchase thousands of dollars of gift cards and electronic equipment, including computers and digital cameras.
Last week, Nixon and the Polk County Prosecuting Attorney filed criminal charges of identity theft against Shante Berry and Diane Johnson of Savannah, Ga., alleging they used a Bolivar woman's identity to make similar purchases. Sam Berry's brother, Henry Lee Berry of Miami, faces two counts of identity theft that Nixon and Wilkins filed in February.
The probable cause statement filed with today's charges alleges that Sam Berry and Shante Berry ordered the merchandise under accounts using the victim's name and billing address and had the items delivered to a residence in Miami.
Nixon said the charges were the result of a cooperative investigation between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Missouri, Florida and Georgia.
Identity theft which results in the theft or appropriation of credit, money, goods, services or other property exceeding $500 and not exceeding $5,000 is a class C felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison upon conviction and a $5,000 fine. The sentencing court also may order a convicted defendant to pay restitution to any victims. Those found guilty of identity theft also may be civilly liable to their victims for up to $5,000 for each incident, or three times the amount of actual damages, whichever is greater. The charges against the defendants are merely accusations; as in all criminal cases, the defendants are presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty in a court of law.