Trio arrested in string of Alabaster identity thefts
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Three California men are being held in the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling more than $100,000 apiece after they allegedly attempted to use stolen identities to purchase items from an Alabaster shopping center.
The Alabaster Police Department arrested 32-year-old Desmond Todd Gardner, 21-year-old Timothy Ray Hamilton and 20-year-old Donrell Laron Morris in Alabaster’s South Promenade on May 1 and charged them with several felony counts.
The arrests came as the result of an ongoing investigation by the Alabaster Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, and after the suspects were spotted inside the Alabaster Target store.
“During the course of the investigation, it has been determined that the trio may have been operating from the Montgomery area and working north along interstate 65,” read an Alabaster Police Department press release. “The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are expected out of other police jurisdictions.”
Gardner and Hamilton allegedly were in possession of a small amount of marijuana when they were arrested. Morris tried to flee officers at the Target store, and was apprehended in the area behind the Best Buy store a short time later, according to Alabaster police.
Gardner and Hamilton list the same address on Burbank Boulevard in Woodland Hills, Calif., and Morris lists an address on Abourne Road in Los Angeles.
Gardner is facing two felony charges of identity theft, three felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit or debit card and one misdemeanor count of unlawful possession of marijuana.
Hamilton is facing two felony identity theft charges, three felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit or debit card, one felony count of second-degree forgery and one misdemeanor count of unlawful possession of marijuana.
Morris has been charged with two felony identity theft charges, three felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit or debit card, one felony count of second-degree forgery, one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest and one misdemeanor count of attempting to elude law enforcement.
Shelby County District Court Judge Bill Bostick granted a Shelby County District Attorney’s Office request to set the suspects’ bonds higher than normal, as the defendants have “no substantial ties to the community, and may become a flight risk.”
The District Attorney’s Office also claimed there may be more victims in the case in the future.
As of May 4, Morris and Hamilton were being held in the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling $220,000, and Gardner was being held on bonds totaling $180,000.
“I cannot begin to say how proud I am to serve on a team of professionals,” Alabaster City Manager George Henry wrote in an email. “In conjunction with target loss prevention employees, these these teammates investigated and tracked down these perpetrators. Even our chief of police was directly engaged in the foot chase and sustained minor injuries during pursuit.”