UPDATE: Phenix City woman accused of stealing over 1000 identiti - WNCN: News, Weather

Text Description

UPDATE: Phenix City woman accused of stealing over 1000 identities pleads not guilty

Posted: Updated:
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Tracy Mitchell, a resident of Phenix City, Ala., was indicted for her involvement in a stolen identity refund fraud scheme, Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Justice Department's Tax Division and U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. for the Middle District of Alabama announced Thursday following the unsealing of the indictment.

Mitchell is charged with eight counts of wire fraud and eight counts of aggravated identity theft. According to the indictment, Mitchell worked at the hospital on the Fort Benning Army Base in Georgia, where she had access to the means of identification of military personnel, including soldiers who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Mitchell stole the identities of military personnel and used those identities to file over 1,000 false tax returns from her home. These false tax returns claimed over $2.2 million in fraudulent refunds.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a statutory maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and a statutory mandatory two-year sentence for each aggravated identity theft count. The defendant is also subject to fines, forfeiture and restitution if convicted.

The case was investigated by special agents of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Army – Criminal Investigation Division. Trial Attorney Michael Boteler of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown are prosecuting the case.

Mitchell plead not guilty in an arraignment hearing on Wednesday. Her trial is expected to be sometime in November, according to a spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

News 3 visited her Phenix City home Friday afternoon to hear her side of the story -- it looked like there were people home at the time -- but no one answered the door when we knocked. We did receive a statement from her defense attorney, Dwayne L. Browne, saying:

"On the behalf of Ms. Mitchell, I would ask all concerned citizens to reserve judgment until this matter is concluded. At the present time, in accordance with well-established constitutional law, Ms. Mitchell is presumed innocent of these serious charges."

And we wanted to know more about identity theft crimes -- so we spoke to Leonard Crain of the local Better Business Bureau. He says it's unfortunate when something like this happens, because it's usually out of the victim's control.

"There's not a lot an individual can do to ensure that information is properly handled inside an organization," says Crain.
But each organization knows that they're responsible for handling the info and protecting it."

A Martin Army Community Hospital spokesperson declined to answer questions on how long Mitchell had worked there, what she did there, and how personal information documents are stored within the hospital. She referred us to an issued statement:

"The staff of the Martin Army Community Hospital cares deeply about the security of our patient’s personally identifiable information. Due to the Department of Justice’s indictment, it would be inappropriate to comment on the alleged crime. The Martin Army Community Hospital staff always strives to provide high quality security of any information about an individual maintained by our organization. We cooperated in the investigation and we are fully committed to patient-centered health care and safe information for all our beneficiaries."

Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission says identity theft is the top consumer complaint - for another year in a row. Its annual list shows 14% of complaints reported were related to identity theft. The growing crime cost victims more than $1.6 billion last year alone. Other top complaints -- debt collection and imposter scams.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim -- the FTC reminds folks to be careful when throwing out material. Be sure to erase cell phones and computers before throwing them away. And be sure to shred documents such as receipts, credit offers, insurance forms or banking statements.

Click here for more tips on how to keep your personal information secure.




James Brierton

James joined WRBL News 3 with experience from CNN, NBC News and his own hyper-local news site. He manages the WRBL News 3 Web desk. More>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Update: Columbus man runs himself over with car on 1st Avenue, police say

    Update: Columbus man runs himself over with car on 1st Avenue, police say

    Sunday, August 31 2014 7:13 PM EDT2014-08-31 23:13:37 GMT
    Authorities were seen looking around a Black Oldsmobile in the backyard of a nearby home. Witnesses say the car struck and killed Williams.Authorities were seen looking around a Black Oldsmobile in the backyard of a nearby home. Witnesses say the car struck and killed Williams.
    Anthony Williams, 29, was run over and killed by a car near Chase Homes on 1st Avenue late Saturday night, according to Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.
    Anthony Williams, 29, was run over and killed by a car near Chase Homes on 1st Avenue late Saturday night, according to Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.
  • Woman robbed of $700 at knifepoint in Columbus bank parking lot, report says

    Woman robbed of $700 at knifepoint in Columbus bank parking lot, report says

    Saturday, August 30 2014 11:11 PM EDT2014-08-31 03:11:34 GMT
    Two men held a 50-year-old woman at knife point and took hundreds of dollars from her in a bank parking lot Friday, according to a police report.The woman told police the attack happened after she withdrew $700 from the Wells Fargo ATM on 13th Street. She says it happened around 5:30 in the afternoon.“That is very surprising, especially in broad daylight. It's just getting outrageous these days,” said Roy Robertson, who was withdrawing money from the ATM on Saturday.The woman told News 3 she ...
    Two men held a 50-year-old woman at knife point and took hundreds of dollars from her in a bank parking lot Friday, according to a police report.The woman told police the attack happened after she withdrew $700 from the Wells Fargo ATM on 13th Street. She says it happened around 5:30 in the afternoon.“That is very surprising, especially in broad daylight. It's just getting outrageous these days,” said Roy Robertson, who was withdrawing money from the ATM on Saturday.The woman told News 3 she ...
  • Columbus gets new Walmarts...with a twist

    Columbus gets new Walmarts...with a twist

    Aug 25, 2014 07:03 PM2014-08-28 22:27:56 GMT
    Three new Walmart's are coming to town, and two of them are not your average Supercenter.Construction is about to be underway at the new Walmart Supercenter on Victory Drive at the site of the old Baker High School. Two new proposals, however, will bring the Walmart Neighborhood Market to Columbus.The Market is like a grocery store, without the clothes, hardware, etc. typical to most Walmart's.See the proposals at www.columbusga.org/planning. You can voice your opinion about the new stores be...
    Three new Walmart's are coming to town, and two of them are not your average Supercenter.Construction is about to be underway at the new Walmart Supercenter on Victory Drive at the site of the old Baker High School. Two new proposals, however, will bring the Walmart Neighborhood Market to Columbus.The Market is like a grocery store, without the clothes, hardware, etc. typical to most Walmart's.See the proposals at www.columbusga.org/planning. You can voice your opinion about the new stores be...
  • Crime WatchMore>>

  • Woman robbed of $700 at knifepoint in Columbus bank parking lot, report says

    Woman robbed of $700 at knifepoint in Columbus bank parking lot, report says

    Saturday, August 30 2014 11:11 PM EDT2014-08-31 03:11:34 GMT
    Two men held a 50-year-old woman at knife point and took hundreds of dollars from her in a bank parking lot Friday, according to a police report.The woman told police the attack happened after she withdrew $700 from the Wells Fargo ATM on 13th Street. She says it happened around 5:30 in the afternoon.“That is very surprising, especially in broad daylight. It's just getting outrageous these days,” said Roy Robertson, who was withdrawing money from the ATM on Saturday.The woman told News 3 she ...
    Two men held a 50-year-old woman at knife point and took hundreds of dollars from her in a bank parking lot Friday, according to a police report.The woman told police the attack happened after she withdrew $700 from the Wells Fargo ATM on 13th Street. She says it happened around 5:30 in the afternoon.“That is very surprising, especially in broad daylight. It's just getting outrageous these days,” said Roy Robertson, who was withdrawing money from the ATM on Saturday.The woman told News 3 she ...
  • Bloody details revealed in Columbus murder suspect’s court hearing

    Bloody details revealed in Columbus murder suspect’s court hearing

    Saturday, August 30 2014 12:01 AM EDT2014-08-30 04:01:33 GMT
    Police say the man accused of killing a Columbus woman and her baby was covered with blood when police pulled him over hours after the bodies were found.Brandon Conner had his first court hearing on Friday. Detectives testified on how they connected Conner, 35, to the murders.The remains of Rosella Mitchell and her son Dylan Conner were found in a home on Winifred Lane after a fire last Thursday. Officials say Mitchell was stabbed with a knife multiple times before the fire.Police say several...
    Police say the man accused of killing a Columbus woman and her baby was covered with blood when police pulled him over hours after the bodies were found.Brandon Conner had his first court hearing on Friday. Detectives testified on how they connected Conner, 35, to the murders.The remains of Rosella Mitchell and her son Dylan Conner were found in a home on Winifred Lane after a fire last Thursday. Officials say Mitchell was stabbed with a knife multiple times before the fire.Police say several...
  • Search continues in Columbus for LaGrange murder suspect

    Search continues in Columbus for LaGrange murder suspect

    Thursday, August 28 2014 6:54 PM EDT2014-08-28 22:54:35 GMT
    Devonte Thorpe is wanted for the murder of Dejerius Hardnett in LaGrange. He is beleived to now be in the Columbus area.Devonte Thorpe is wanted for the murder of Dejerius Hardnett in LaGrange. He is beleived to now be in the Columbus area.
    Authorities continue searching for Devonte Thorpe. He is wanted for a LaGrange murder and is now believed to the in the Columbus area.
    Authorities continue searching for Devonte Thorpe. He is wanted for a LaGrange murder and is now believed to the in the Columbus area.
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.