8 Salt Lake County residents arrested for identity theft; most victims Utahns

The eight people charged with identity theft are, clockwise from upper left, Danny Lechtenberg, Jesse Bell, Christopher Cummings, Jody Bledsoe, Tina Schilling, Donald Peck, Christopher Winterton and Carolina Morton. Photos: Salt Lake County

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 17, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — A 56-count federal indictment returned by a Utah grand jury charges eight Salt Lake County residents with creating fake identification in the names of real people, using the false documents to apply for credit.

The charges allege that the defendants then used the newly obtained credit to make purchases at businesses in Salt Lake County.

The indictment alleges the defendants had the names of 143,000 people — nearly one in 20 Utahns – most of whom either reside in Utah or lived in the state at some point.

In addition to the names, the defendants had corresponding personal identifying information of their victims. The information source is not known, but the format of the database leads investigators to believe it came from a health insurance company or a business that provided a service to the health insurance company more than five years ago.

Five of the defendants are from Taylorsville: Danny Lechtenberg, age 36; Jesse Ryan Bell, 30, Christopher Wayne Cummings, 33; Jody Ray Bledsoe, 44; and Christopher Winterton, 35.

Two defendants are from Salt Lake City: Carolina Cueller Morton, 53; and Donald Leslie Peck, 51. The final defendant is Tina Marie Schilling, 57, of West Valley City.

A sealed indictment was returned by a federal grand jury Feb. 1, 2017. It was unsealed Feb. 3, 2017.

Danny Lechtenberg was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, possession with intent to use or transfer five or more documents, identity theft, using an unauthorized access device, aggravated identity theft, and manufacture of a controlled substance/marijuana.

Jesse Ryan Bell, Christopher Wayne Cummings, Jody Ray Bledsoe, Carolina Cueller Morton, Christopher Winterton, Donald Leslie Peck, Tina Marie Schilling were each charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, using an unauthorized access device, and aggravated identity theft

Lechtenberg, Bell, Cummings, Morton, and Winterton were arrested on federal warrants and had initial appearances in federal court Feb. 3, 2017.

Lechtenberg, Winterton and Cummings are in custody. Lechtenberg has a detention hearing Friday at 2:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Evelyn J. Furse. Magistrate Judge Furse found that Morton and Bell pose a risk of non-appearance and are a danger to the safety of others and the community, but found those risks are manageable under a combination of conditions. Bledsoe, Peck, and Schilling are scheduled for initial appearances on the charges Feb. 28, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. These three were issued summons to appear in court.

While more than 143,000 people were included in the database, the evidence suggests that only a small number of people had their identity used for a fraudulent purpose. Those individuals who have been identified as suffering a direct impact have been notified that they are victims of the charged crimes.

The case is being investigated by the Unified Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and member agencies of the Utah Identity Theft Task Force. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City.

To determine if your personal information was included in the compromised database, please contact the Department of Justice’s Mega-Victim Case Assistance Program at 1-844-527-5299 or [email protected]

If there was evidence to suggest that your information was used for a fraudulent purpose, you should have already received a personal letter from the Victim Notification System.

Even if you are not among the identified victims, however, it is possible that your information may have been used on third party websites to check credit scores or obtain unauthorized credit accounts. We encourage you to monitor your credit and notify investigators if you suspect fraudulent activity.


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