Nine indicted in wide-ranging identity-theft ring

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By The Staff

Five men and four women alleged to be in an identity theft and forgery ring operating in Jefferson County have been indicted by a grand jury for racketeering under laws designed to prosecute organized crime.

Those indicted are accused of participating in a criminal enterprise that operated in Jefferson County, the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs between October 2008 and February 2009.

The nine indicted are: Richard Wade Williams, 44, of Golden; Mark Bryan Hudson, 43, of Buena Vista; Michael Allen Morris, 48, of Littleton; Eric Zane Armstrong, 30, of Denver; Nina Elizabeth Martinez, 26, of Arvada; Amanda June Tuttle, 28, of Westminster; William Carroll, 30, of Colorado Springs; Jimi Lynn Chevrie, 24, of Littleton; and Vanessa Leeann Black, 22, of Castle Rock.

The group is accused of stealing financial and personal identifying information by breaking into cars and stealing mail out of mailboxes. Most of the thefts from home mailboxes occurred in Jefferson County.

According to the indictment, members of the ID theft ring stole checks and other banking information, Social Security cards, drivers’ licenses and credit cards. The stolen information was used to create forged checks and identifications. The forged checks or stolen credit cards would be used to obtain merchandise and cash, which they used to pay for their daily living expense and illegal drug use.

“As we so often see, this ID theft ring appears to have been fueled by the members’ methamphetamine use,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey.

A total of 101 counts were filed by indictment. Five were charged with the Colorado Organized Crime and Control Act violations and other counts as applicable. Each member was charged according to that person’s alleged level of activity.

The charges filed include: identity theft, a class-four felony; conspiracy to commit identity theft and theft, a class-four felony; possession of a controlled substance greater than one gram, second offense, a class-two felony; theft series, a class-three felony; conspiracy to commit theft of $15,000 or more, a class-four felony; computer crime of $15,000 or more, a class-three felony; forgery, a class-five felony; criminal impersonation, a class-six felony; and others.

The investigation began in late 2008 as the Arvada Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office began receiving reports of car break-ins and stolen mail. In the following weeks and months they began to receive reports of bad checks being passed at local merchants and forged checks being cashed at banks using the information previously reported stolen.

“These are very complicated investigations,” Storey said. “Often forged checks were created using the name and address of one victim and an account number of another victim. Investigators had to piece it all together. It required great attention to detail. This is an example of excellent police work by the Arvada Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.”

According to the affidavit, each defendant is alleged to have participated to some degree in the criminal enterprise by stealing personal and financial information, creating false identifications and checks, and negotiating the stolen or forged checks. Different members of the enterprise had different tasks within the organization. Some stole the financial information, others created forged checks and identifications and others transacted and negotiated the forged checks or made purchases using stolen credit cards.

The indictment was returned on Oct. 23, but law enforcement wanted to wait until most of the defendants were arrested to announce the indictment. Michael Allen Morris of Littleton is the only one of the nine who has not been arrested. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. The other eight defendants have been arrested and are in various stages of the justice system.