December 11, 2009

STOCKTON MAN CONVICTED OF BANK FRAUD, AGGRAVATED I.D. THEFT, AND POSSESSION OF STOLEN U.S. MAIL

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that RUSSELL ANTHONY HARDCASTLE, 39, of Stockton, pleaded guilty this morning before United States District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton to felony bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and possession of stolen U.S. mail.

This case is the product of extensive investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, and the City of Stockton Police Department.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Rodriguez, who is prosecuting the case, from January 2007 through June 2009, HARDCASTLE executed and led an elaborate access device and check fraud scheme to steal money from banks and credit card companies. As part of the scheme, HARDCASTLE unlawfully used stolen identification information to open credit card accounts and to cash stolen forged checks through bank accounts maintained for purposes of check kiting and fraud. HARDCASTLE and his criminal associate, LACEY RENEE COX, 27, also of Stockton, then deposited forged and fictitious checks, including checks stolen from the U.S. Mail, in order to later successfully steal and attempt to steal federally insured bank money.

HARDCASTLE is scheduled to be sentenced on February 17, 2010. On September 1, 2009, COX pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on January 26, 2010. Each defendant is facing up to 30 years in prison for the bank fraud conviction, up to 5 additional years for the stolen mail possession conviction, a mandatory two-year sentence for the aggravated ID theft conviction, and up to $1,500,000 in restitution. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables and any applicable statutory sentencing factors.

HARDCASTLE was on California state parole during commission of his felony fraud offenses. He has been denied bail and remanded into federal custody. Cox is on bail pending sentencing.

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