A St. Paul man has admitted to being part of group from the Twin Cities whose identity-theft, bank-fraud and money-laundering activities covered more than a dozen states and earned the suspects at least $2 million.
Kevin T. Martin, 45, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in St. Paul to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft for his role in the ring that victimized hundreds of people, along with stores and banks, from 2006 through December 2011.
Martin faces as much as 30 years in prison on the bank-fraud count and a minimum of two years in prison on the identity-theft charge.
He admitted in court on Wednesday that he and others used stolen driver's license and bank account numbers from hundreds of unsuspecting individuals to create counterfeit checks and fraudulent identification documents.
They would pilfer financial information and identities from cars, businesses, trash cans and mailboxes while also obtaining some information from bank employees.
Martin admitted that the checks were passed at stores to buy expensive merchandise that was subsequently returned for cash. The counterfeit checks also were passed at banks, where Martin and the others deposited the checks into victims' accounts and then made withdrawals from those same accounts.
Some of the counterfeit checks were drawn on accounts at U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, American Bank of St. Paul, Affinity Plus Credit Union, Healtheast Employees Credit Union, Unity One Credit Union and Western Bank.
Ten others had pleaded guilty to their roles in the fraud. As a group, the defendants have prior convictions ranging from theft by swindle to identity theft, assault, drugs, forgeries and receiving stolen property.
Star Tribune staff writer Dan Browning contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482