SACRAMENTO, CA—Michael Garcia, 39, of Stockton, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to 57 months in prison for fraud in connection with computers and in connection with an access device, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Garcia was employed as a technician by a contractor that provided information technology (IT) assistance to third parties. While employed there, Garcia accessed the computer servers of a law firm and an accountant firm without their knowledge or authorization and downloaded the personal information of more than 1,450 clients and employees. Garcia maintained this information on his computer and elsewhere.
According to court documents, Garcia and others used this personal and financial information to make counterfeited identification documents including driver’s licenses and military identification. They used the information to open bank accounts, draft bank checks, make cash withdrawals, obtain loans and lines of credit, and make unauthorized purchases. Additionally, Garcia accompanied others who wore stolen U.S. Customs and Border Protection uniforms to carry out certain fraudulent transactions, such as cashing checks, in the belief that the uniforms gave them more credibility. When arrested, Garcia possessed counterfeit California driver’s licenses, one of which bore his photo but with the name of a victim. The loss is more than $136,000.
Today in court, an employee of the accounting firm where Garcia unlawfully accessed the personal financial information told of the severe hardship suffered by the firm because of Garcia’s actions, as well as the personal toll she experienced because of Garcia’s breach of trust. Judge England commented that identity theft cases, particularly those where there has been an abuse of trust, negatively affect many lives.
This case was the product of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Pickles and Robin Taylor prosecuted the case.