Man sentenced for using stolen mail, fake IDs to get $160,000
SPRINGFIELD - Prosecutors said Thursday a judge sentenced a Columbia man in federal court for using stolen mail and fake IDs to get almost $160,000 from 14 different banks.
A judge sentenced 37-year-old Michael Spears to seven years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Spears to pay restitution of $114,127.
United States Attorney Tammy Dickinson said Spears pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2015, to being involved in a conspiracy to defraud more than a dozen banks from July 2013 to Feb. 2014. Spears would pass counterfeited and forged checks with fake identification documents.
Dickinson said at least 12 co-conspirators stole mail, printed counterfeit checks, passed counterfeit checks with fake IDs and opened at least five fictitious businesses to conceal the deposit and withdrawal of counterfeit checks.
Dickinson said Spears met one of his co-conspirators, 49-year-old Phillip Shockey, in jail and contacted him later after they were both released from jail.
Shockey has pleaded guilty to his role as leader of the conspiracy. Shockey made false identification documents and counterfeit checks using account information from mail stolen by others in the conspiracy.
Dickinson said Shockey used motel rooms to set up a work station of computers, printers, scanners, a camera, a blue hanging sheet for ID photos and other items to produce false ID cards and counterfeit checks.
Spears would steal mail for Shockey so he could use the personal information to make fake ID documents. Spears would use the fake ID documents to open bank accounts and try to pass fraudulent checks.
Dickinson said Spears passed or tried to pass 24 checks from Shockey for a total of at least $159,842.
Other members of the conspiracy sold cattle and used the financial information from the checks they got from the cattle sale to make more fake checks.