With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar Office wants to remind all citizens of the county to remain vigilant to protect against all forms of fraud and theft, including identify theft. While incidents of identity theft are numerous all year long, commission of all types of property crimes tends to increase toward the end of the year. Rest assured though that we have a competent team of Deputy District Attorney’s dedicated to prosecuting this class of crimes consisting of almost twenty-year veteran Deputy District Attorney Katherine Mahood along with Deputy District Attorney Heath Whilding. In the last year, they have handled dozens and dozens of cases with astonishing results.
In October, Vireak Rithy, 32, was sentenced to eight years in prison for multiple felony violations of identity theft, stemming from an investigation earlier this year by the Delta Regional Auto Theft Task Force and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office. Rithy was found to be in unlawful possession of drivers’ licenses, social security cards, credit cards and other evidence of identity theft belonging to over twenty victims.
On November 13, 2019, Lydia Garibay, 30, and Christy King, 44, entered pleas for identity theft, automobile theft, fraud and forgery charges. Defendant Garibay was sentenced to 5 years in prison with a split sentence of 1 year and 4 months in custody and three years and 8 months of supervision. Defendant King was sentenced to one year in custody and 5 years of probation.On June 13, 2019, a woman in Brentwood, California, reported to Lodi Police Department that she had received paperwork from Lodi Toyota regarding a vehicle purchased in her name. She had, in fact, not purchased any vehicle. Lodi police made contact with employees at Lodi Toyota who provided them a photocopy of the ID used to purchase the vehicle. Lodi police determine that Christy king was actually the person in the photograph.
After investigation, it was determined that on May 30, 2019, Christy King went into Lodi Toyota located at 1020 Beckman Road in Lodi, California and presented an altered California driver’s license with her photograph and the victim’s personal identifying information. Posing as the victim, she was able to purchase a $14,000 Toyota Corolla.
On June 18, 2019, Officer Kris Valencia with the Lodi Police Department was on patrol and went to Christy King’s residence to attempt to make contact with her regarding the fraudulent purchase. When he arrived, he saw two women leave the residence, one of whom was Christy King and the other Lydia Garibay. They were found to be in possession of between 50-100 victims’ personal identifying and financial information, including stolen and altered California Driver’s Licenses, debit and credit cards, and altered checks. Also in their possession was the stolen Toyota Corolla key with the dealership tag on it.
On December 6, 2019 defendant Amber Clark, 32, was sentenced to 7 years in prison with a split sentence of two years in custody and five years of supervision for seven felony violations of the penal code including unauthorized use of multiple victim’s personal identifying information, check forgery and fraudulent purchase of a vehicle and possession of altered identification as well as a misdemeanor count of battery. For several years, Ms. Clark went to various banks in the community with altered or stolen checks and cashed or attempted to cash those checks until her arrest in 2019.
Next week, Philla Or is scheduled to be sentenced in Stockton up to five years for possessing over $7,000 in stolen checks. He was also in possession of an illegal firearm, and has prior convictions for theft related offenses, including identity theft.
These investigations are time consuming and labor intensive. These prosecutions would not be successful but for the cooperation of our investigative partners. The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office would like to thank the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, Lodi Police Department and the United States Postal Inspector.
District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar advises cases like these should serve as a reminder to take all possible precautions to protect your belongings and identity.
Here are a few precautions to decrease your chances of being a victim of mail, financial and identity theft:
No one is immune from identity theft; even children’s social security numbers can be hacked to commit fraud. The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office diligently collaborates with local law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute these crimes, and seek restitution for those affected. For information on how to prevent identity theft, or what to do if you suspect you may be a victim, the District Attorney has information posted on our Identity Theft page.