Rohnert Park 19-year-old appears in court in ID theft, spending spree case

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office filed a 54-count fraud and identity theft complaint Friday against a Rohnert Park man suspected of buying thousands of dollars of gift cards from Northern California Safeway stores with fraudulent credit cards.

Mohannad Halaweh, 19, did not enter a plea in Sonoma County Superior Court. He is being held in the Sonoma County jail under $1 million bail. Halaweh was charged in June with grand theft, vehicle theft and using fraudulent credit cards. He allegedly rented a $240,000 McLaren sports car from a San Jose rental car company and a $12 million vacation home in Glen Ellen using fraudulent credit cards.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Jamar filed the 54-count amended complaint Friday morning. Jamar said Halaweh bought gift cards in Safeway stores in Northern California including Humboldt, San Mateo, Marin and Sonoma counties.

“He used the same fraudulent card six times in one day,” Jamar said.

The total loss is in excess of $100,000 and a typical transaction was for $6,000, Jamar said. Some Safeway stores were victimized multiple times, Jamar said.

Halaweh had the personal information of 10 identity theft victims on his computer and manufactured credit cards on a machine using the names of 13 other people, Jamar said.

The victims were unaware of the theft until they were contacted by the credit card companies. All the alleged offenses occurred in 2014, Jamar said.

A Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy arrested Halaweh in the Roseland area of unincorporated Santa Rosa on June 4 when he spotted the stolen McLaren.

Halaweh was returning from a court appearance in Alameda County where he was charged with buying iPhones and laptops with a fake credit card in Berkeley.

An alleged accessory, Nhimia Kahsay, 19, of Santa Rosa, who also was in the McLaren, was arrested and booked in the Sonoma County jail for outstanding warrants in Del Norte County. He posted $60,000 bail, and Jamar said he will file a warrant for Kahsay’s arrest.

After Halaweh’s first court appearance on June 13, defense attorney William DuBois said Halaweh admits the offenses, accepts responsibility and the fact he will be punished.

Du Bois attributed his client’s criminal conduct to “youthful indiscretion.” Friday he said in light of the 54-count complaint, that youthful indiscretion appears to be “rather substantial.”

Jamar told Judge Dana Simonds he and Du Bois are discussing a possible disposition of the complaint.

Halaweh’s next court date is Aug. 1.

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