Three county residents have been sentenced to prison in an identity theft conspiracy that was investigated by local and federal authorities.
Jessica L. Franklin, 38, Beaufort, Jesse Ray Chitwood, 34, St. Clair, and John D. Townsend, 40, Pacific, were sentenced on one charge each of conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office reported.
Last year, the three defendants entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge John A. Ross.
Under the conspiracy, Townsend stole the personal identification information of his customers while he was employed at an automotive dealership located in St. Louis County and exchanged the information with Franklin for methamphetamines.
Franklin used the stolen identification information to manufacture fraudulent Missouri Department of Revenue temporary driver’s licenses which Franklin and Chitwood used to open lines of credit and purchase merchandise at various retailers throughout eastern Missouri, according to court records.
Franklin pleaded guilty in October 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and one count of aggravated identity theft and was sentenced in January 2017 to 45 months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Chitwood pleaded guilty in September 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and was sentenced in January 2017 to 24 months in federal prison.
Townsend was sentenced Feb. 1 to 13 months on one felony count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud.
The case was investigated by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington, Ballwin and Kirkwood police departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Roy handled the case.