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Edwin Gomez, 35, pleaded guilty to identity theft Feb. 1 and faces between 18 months and three years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 15, the DA's office said. When he was arrested in November, Gomez was accused of stealing the personal information of more than 150 reservists during his three-day stint working for a maintenance contractor at Fort Totten in Bayside.Prosecutors said the investigation began in November when a Staten Island soldier who had recently returned from Kuwait reported unauthorized credit card charges. Neiman Marcus department store also alerted authorities that a credit card account Gomez opened under another name was suspicious, according to investigators.U.S. Postal Inspectors, the law enforcement arm of the postal service, sent an undercover inspector to deliver the Neiman Marcus package ordered online under another soldier's name to Gomez's address at 177-09 110th Ave. in Jamaica, a spokesman for the postal inspectors said. Gomez was arrested after he signed the soldier's name."This is just another example of a simple, basic, old-fashioned type of identity theft, which is physical theft of documents," said Al Weissmann, public information officer for the Postal Inspection Service. Postal inspectors had jurisdiction because Gomez ordered goods through the mail using a fraudulent credit card.Weissmann said while many people think identity theft mostly happens online, securing physical documents such as the soldiers' records at Fort Totten remains important.After Gomez's arrest in November, authorities contacted the other soldiers whose personal information had been stolen, according to Queens DA Richard Brown, but "the monetary damage was minimal as the defendant was just getting started using the stolen reservists' identities.""The victim in this case had served his country and returned home to find that someone had stolen his identity and allegedly the identity of more than a hundred of his fellow soldiers," Brown said in a statement.The joint investigation involved postal inspectors, police from the 103rd Precinct and members of the DA's economic crimes bureau.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 188.
©2006 Community Newspaper Group
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