Woman sentenced for identity theft, counterfeit check ring

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, September 3, 2013

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A Birmingham woman will spend more than six years in prison after she was sentenced for her involvement in an identity theft and counterfeit check scheme in several cities, including Pelham.

A federal judge sentenced Daphne Collette Tate, 42, to six years and two months in prison after she pleaded guilty in April to working with five other people to defraud more than 24 banks in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Tate also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, possessing a business check stolen from the U.S. mail and possessing a counterfeit check.

Also charged in the identity theft and counterfeit check ring were Tate’s cousin, Keith Lamar Reese, 46, of Birmingham and Atlanta-area residents, Colundria Seats, Demario Mormon, Cilffton Mormon and Brett Falconer.

Reese and Falconer previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, and DeMario Mormon is a fugitive.

Seats and Cliffton Mormon were arrested in June and July, respectively, and their cases are awaiting trial.

According to court documents, Tate and the five other suspects carried out their scheme between September 2011 and February 2013. United States Attorney Joyce White Vance’s office gave the following account of the crime ring:

“They obtained account and routing information for various businesses’ legitimate checking accounts in at least 25 banks through various means, including stealing checks from the mail and engaging people who had access to account information. Falconer was employed by Regions Bank and accessed the bank’s records for the conspiracy during her employment. Falconer provided co-conspirators with information from Regions’ accounts and from checks presented at Regions Bank. Other conspirators, including Demario and Cliffton Mormon, used that genuine account and routing information to manufacture counterfeit business checks.

“Tate, Seats and Reese would locate people, often the homeless, who had government-issued identification cards and would join the conspiracy as check-cashers. Tate, Seats, Reese and other co-conspirators would transport the check-cashers to locations where they would cash or attempt to cash the counterfeit checks. Members of the conspiracy would divide the proceeds of the successfully cashed checks among themselves.”

In addition to the Pelham Police Department, the Trussville and Vestavia Hills police departments, Regions Bank corporate investigators, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service investigated the case.