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Grand jury indicts PA man on federal fraud, conspiracy charges

In many criminal cases, defendants end up facing federal charges after state and local authorities have conducted an investigation. If the state has filed charges, sometimes those charges are dropped as federal prosecutors take over the case and instead pursue a federal conviction.

Recently, a Pennsylvania man and a New York man were indicted by a federal grand jury over what authorities say was the fraudulent use of gift cards and credit cards throughout Pennsylvania. The men were initially facing 199 counts on the state level, but those charges were dropped. Now the men have been indicted on federal charges of access device fraud and conspiracy.

According to police, in June 2013 the men used a false credit card to purchase about $3,000 worth of merchandise from a Target store. That alleged incident led to the 199 counts that were later dropped and replaced with federal charges in November.

In addition to the federal fraud and conspiracy allegations, one of the men is accused of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, he could face a 45-year prison sentence and fines of more than $1 million.

The other man, who is from Tannersville, faces a possible 20-year prison sentence and fines of up to $500,000.

Clearly, even though fraud and identity theft are not regarded as violent crimes, authorities aggressively prosecute these types of charges and seek the severest possible penalties. Defending against such allegations involves scrutinizing the prosecution's claims for any weaknesses. If authorities cannot establish an evidentiary link between the alleged crimes and the defendant, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.

Source: The Scranton Times-Tribune, "Federal grand jury indicts two men for bilking Dickson City store," Rebekah Brown, Jan. 16, 2014

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