Georgia men plead guilty in gift card scheme

(Source: MGN Online)
(Source: MGN Online)

LAFAYETTE PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Two Georgia men pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to taking part in a scheme to defraud Wal-Mart and other retail businesses out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through identity theft and wire fraud.

The men were arrested in a Lake Charles Wal-Mart, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley.

Finley said Derrick Nathaniel Hartfield, 45, of Smyrna, Ga., and Rico Carty Clemons, 47, of Riverdale, Ga., entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Court Judge Richard T. Haik.

Finley said according to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Hartfield and Clemons admitted they used illegally obtained retail store gift cards and applied for credit/debit cards using other peoples' identities.

"Hartfield acknowledged during the entry of his guilty plea that he had advised law enforcement officers that he may have obtained approximately one million dollars in cash since 2005 as a result of the scheme. A Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office deputy working a security detail at a Lake Charles Wal-Mart on July 7, 2012, apprehended the defendant Hartfield in the store. The officer then identified Clemons who was in a parked vehicle. The two men were in possession of thousands of dollars and numerous debit and credit cards that were not in their names," the release states.

Finley said both defendants face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, restitution and five years of supervised release for pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Additionally, Finley said Hartfield faces a mandatory two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine, restitution and three years of supervised release for pleading guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft.

A sentencing date has not been set.

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Secret Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett L. Grayson is prosecuting the case.

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