Identity-theft ring leader gets 22 years in prison

The alleged leader of an identity fraud ring was sentenced to 22 years in prison Tuesday after being convicted of wire fraud and identity theft, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced.

A jury in August 2012 convicted Gerald Bass, 45, of Detroit of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, officials said.

The evidence at trial established that Bass was the leader of a group of conspirators who stole victims identification information and accessed their credit accounts at retail stores such as J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, Lowes and Home Depot, the U.S. Attorneys Office said in a statement. Bass and his co-conspirators used this information to obtain merchandise worth tens of thousands of dollars.

At sentencing Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Sean F. Cox said Bass lengthy criminal record, including 13 prior convictions for crimes involving theft and dishonesty, factored significantly in his decision.

Anyone who has had their identity or credit card stolen knows that identity fraud causes serious harm to victims, who can spend years repairing their credit history, McQuade said. Todays sentence sends a strong message that identity thieves will pay a steep price.

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