CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - A Bronx, New York man has been sentenced to prison for identity theft after an incident in Carbondale, Illinois.
Brian Paul Rivera, 24, was sentenced to four years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He will also serve one year of mandatory supervised release.
According to Jackson County State's Attorney Michael C. Carr, Carbondale police officers were dispatched to Verizon on East Main Street on January 8 for a report of suspicious activity.
Police say Rivera bought approximately $1,700 worth of merchandise from the store. They say it was charged to a Verizon account owned by someone living in Arizona.
Rivera presented an Arizona identification card, which had his photograph on it, but had the name and address of the victim in Arizona.
Staff called the victim in Arizona, who confirmed that the purchase was fraudulent and that his identification had been stolen.
Shortly after Rivera left the store, police say another person came in and tried to buy merchandise on an account owned by a person in Connecticut. This person, later identified as co-defendant Jonathan Gonzalez, presented a Connecticut identification card with the victim's name.
Police say they talked to Rivera in a vehicle outside of the Verizon store. They say they recovered the fake identification card and the merchandise.
After searching Rivera's vehicle, officers say they found more stolen identities, including names and social security numbers for other victims.
Gonzalez was taken into custody as he left the store.
According to police, they also seized Rivera's cell phone and later executed a search warrant on it.
They say the recovered a large amount of information that implicated Rivera and Gonzalez in being involved in a large conspiracy involving identity theft.
Police say they learned Rivera and Gonzalez started traveling from the state of New York on January 2. During their travels, Rivera communicated with at least three other people allegedly involved in the conspiracy, who are believed to be residents of New York.
They say several stolen identities were sent to Rivera to use to target Verizon locations and fraudulently buy merchandise on the victims' Verizon accounts. That merchandise would later be sold for cash and the proceeds would be distributed to the people involved in the conspiracy.
Police recovered information that similar stops were made in Kentucky, Indiana, as well as Marion, Ill.
During the investigation, police recovered evidence from Rivera's phone, such as photographs of identification cards; addresses; social security numbers; etc., from approximately 22 victims; including victims from Illinois, as well as a number of other states throughout the country.
Police say they contacted the victims and a large number of them confirmed fraudulent activity on their Verizon accounts.
On March 23, Rivera pleaded guilty to the Class 3 felony of conspiracy to commit identity theft.
The co-defendant, Jonathan S. Gonzalez, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit identity theft and possession of a counterfeit credit card. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 1.
The investigation was conducted by the Carbondale Police Department. Assistant State's Attorney Casey Bloodworth was responsible for prosecution of the case.