Five of the seven Frederick County residents who pleaded guilty for their part in a computer fraud and identity theft ring were sentenced to one day in prison, plus one year of probation.
Two other Frederick men who also were involved in the operation received lengthier sentences — more than three years in prison apiece.
The federal cases — which centered on the illegal collection and sale of information about people in debt — were prosecuted in Albany, New York.
Authorities said members of the ring illegally obtained information about debtors from the New York State Department of Labor and workforce agencies in other states.
They pretended to be those debtors, creating thousands of online unemployment insurance applications, with those debtors names and personal information, including Social Security numbers.
A company called Paymerica Corp. researched the debtors, illegally obtained the information from government entities, and sold “place-of-employment” information to debt collectors for about $90 per debtor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
Over the course of about three years, Paymerica made nearly $1 million selling this information, authorities said.
Paymerica sold place-of-employment information for at least 12,000 people from 40 states, authorities said. Members of the ring tried to obtain information for up to 200,000 people in all 50 states, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
After a five-day trial, Guy Cuomo, of Frederick, also known as “John Monaco,” was sentenced in August to 45 months in prison. He was found guilty of computer fraud, misuse of a Social Security number, aggravated identity theft and related conspiracy charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He will be on supervised probation for three years after he is released from prison.
Authorities said Cuomo worked for and managed companies owned by Jason “J.R.” Trowbridge, including Paymerica Corp.
Trowbridge, also known as “Ted Frost,” pleaded guilty to conspiracy, misuse of a Social Security number and aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced in March to 39 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised probation. He was fined $30,000 and ordered to forfeit $446,996.46 in bank accounts tied to the scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Cuomo faced a mandatory sentence of two years on the aggravated identity theft charges and up to 20 years on the remaining charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Five other co-defendants were sentenced after Cuomo in August and September. All received one day of imprisonment, which was time served, and will spend one year on supervised release.
• Robin Chapin of Frederick, also known as “Thomas Price,” for conspiracy to commit computer fraud, accessing a protected computer and obtaining information, and aggravated identity theft
• Rebecca Fogle of Woodsboro, also known as “Roxanne Morris” and “Jessica Felton,” for conspiracy to commit computer fraud, accessing a protected computer and obtaining information, and aggravated identity theft
• Shamair Brison of Frederick, also known as “Felicia Carter,” for aggravated identity theft
• Sarah Bromfield of Frederick, also known as “Nicole Wagner,” for aggravated identity theft
• Anna Hardy of Frederick, also known as “Sarah Thomas,” for aggravated identity theft
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the maximum sentence for aggravated identity theft was two years in prison. Chapin also faced a maximum of 10 years on the remaining charges.
Asked on Monday about the difference between the maximum sentences and the sentences the five co-defendants received, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett, a public information officer, said the office does not comment on specific sentences.
Danielle Neroni, an attorney who represented Brison, also declined to comment on Monday.
However, sentencing memos submitted by defense attorneys referred to hardships their clients have, particularly in their health or family, and say their clients had lesser involvement in the fraud operation than the two main defendants.