United States v. Baldwin, No. 13-12973 (11th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
During a traffic stop, police saw evidence of possible identity theft in plain view. A vehicle search revealed mail addressed to people unrelated to Earnest or his passenger, 39 debit cards, $4,000 in cash, and documents containing names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and addresses for 1,000 individuals, plus their online tax return personal information and debit card account numbers. Hundreds of fraudulent tax returns had been filed, seeking $1.8 million in refunds; the IRS paid out $840,000. Many refunds were loaded onto debit cards. Earnest was linked to residences where the returns were filed and was photographed using the unauthorized debit cards. Tax returns were filed from Earl's IP addresses; he also was recorded using thecards. Both were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud against the government, conspiracy to use unauthorized access devices, use of unauthorized access devices, and aggravated identity theft. Earnest also was convicted of possessing 15 or more unauthorized access devices. Earl was sentenced to 84 months’ imprisonment. Earnest was sentenced to 172 months. Belizaire recruited people to provide addresses , exchanged identification information of victims, filed fraudulent returns, and used the debit cards; he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and aggravated identity theft and was sentenced to 129 months’ imprisonment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed both convictions and all sentences.