Earlier this month, two Baton Rouge sisters were sentenced to time in federal prison after they admitted to stealing other people’s personal information in order to defraud banks of a total of $148,935. The fraud reportedly occurred over a three-year period.

One of the sisters had been charged in 22 felony counts, and the other was accused in 12 counts. Earlier this year, one of the sisters was sentenced to 51 months after pleading guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The other sister was previously sentenced to four years for the same charges. Both have been ordered to jointly repay restitution for the money they fraudulently obtained.

According to the indictment, one sister worked at a retail store where she had access to personal identifying information of individuals applying for credit, and the other worked at a different location where she had access to abandoned patient files for people who had sought medical-related services from a prior tenant. The sisters were accused of using the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other personal information of individuals to obtain credit cards and bank accounts in the names of those people.

The decision to plead guilty to criminal charges involves careful consideration. In some cases, the decision is not ideal, but is done strategically, to avoid the possibility of a harsher sentence. Criminal defendants need to work closely with an experienced attorney before making the decision to plead guilty, especially when the charges are as serious as those in this case.

Source: The Advocate, “Sisters get federal jail terms in bank fraud, ID theft plea deal,” Bill Lodge, November 18, 2012