|For Immediate Release
Case # 07CF1094
MORTGAGE COMPANY OWNER GETS 10 YEARS FOR IDENTITY THEFT AND STEALING MORE THAN $500,000
BY ACCESSING CREDIT AGENCY DATABASES
SANTA ANA – The owner of a San Diego based mortgage company was convicted yesterday of conspiring and using his business to steal the identities of victims in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Michael Alexander Hartsell, 50, Vista, was sentenced to ten years in prison after pleading guilty to fourteen felony counts of identity theft, thirteen counts of grand larceny, and one count of forgery.
Four additional co-defendants have also been charged in the conspiracy and identity theft ring. All five defendants were charged in April of 2007 with 187 felony counts including conspiracy, identity theft, grand theft, computer access and fraud, receiving stolen property, forgery, false personation, and other charges. Patricia Ann McIntosh, 42, Vista, pleaded guilty to 14 counts and is scheduled to be sentenced September 19, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. Natasha Chiara Di Lorenzo, 31, Oceanside, pleaded guilty to four counts and was sentenced to two years in prison. William Andrew Padworski, 47, Oceanside, pleaded guilty to eight counts and was sentenced to two years and eight months in state prison. Laurrisa Laurrainne Ballow, 39, is scheduled to be arraigned in this case on September 14, 2007 at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. Ballow face a maximum sentence of up to 96 years if convicted of all counts.
Between January 1, 2005 and January 31, 2007, the defendants used Hartsell’s mortgage finance company, First Choice Mortgage in Vista, San Diego County, to access the databases of three major credit agencies including Experian Corporation, TransUnion Corporation, and Equifax Corporation. The defendants gained access to the credit agencies’ confidential files and stole the personal information of more than 100 victims in Southern California counties, including Orange and San Diego. The defendants made numerous transactions through major retailers such as Costco, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, and Sears, using credit card accounts they created in the names of the stolen identities. Losses are estimated at over $500,000.
This case was a joint effort between the Orange County District Attorney’s office and the Carlsbad Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, San Diego County District Attorney, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Secret Service.
Deputy District Attorney David Demurjian of the Economic Crimes Unit prosecuted this case.